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Ginny Bowbrick has been a doctor for 30 years and is a consultant vascular surgeon at Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent. She has three sons aged 15, 12 and 12 – and the twins are autistic with severe learning disabilities.
Alongside her medical career, her other professional interests are in medical education of junior doctors and in promoting understanding of autism and learning disabilities among healthcare professionals.
She is currently embedding a campaign called the ‘Not Less Campaign’ in her own Trust with their support to promote understanding of autism and learning disabilities which she hopes will be taken up by other Trusts in due course.
There is a wide body of evidence that people with autism and learning disabilities are not currently treated equally in care settings including acute hospitals. This leads to poorer care and poorer outcomes. The CIPOLD report (Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities) in 2013 found that men with learning disabilities died on average 13 years sooner than the general population and for women this was 20 years sooner.
Subsequent reports have shown little improvement. Following the Annual report for LeDeR (Learning Disabilities Mortality Review) 2016/2017, mandatory e-learning is to be introduced. However, there is no visible campaign in existence to reassure patients and their families that awareness has been raised. The ‘Not Less Campaign’ is an opportunity to change this by dispelling myths, removing stereotypes and developing understanding by asking NHS staff to pledge equality in care, to not make assumptions about learning disability and autistic patients and to listen to them and their families.
This campaign will enable the staff at Medway to feel better equipped and empowered to deliver the best of care for people with autism and learning disabilities. A badge is being developed for staff to wear which will be a visible symbol to patients and their families.
She has already presented her proposal to her chief executive, medical director and consultant colleagues who offered unanimous support.
She has been using feedback from her colleagues following her presentation and also from the autistic community on Twitter on what they want healthcare professionals to know, to help create the information packs and logo to be used. The Campaign will be formally launched this autumn at Medway Maritime Hospital. For more information or to message her please follow @CampaignPiece on Twitter.
Ginny’s radio interview will go live today (19th September) at 1pm and every day until Monday (23rd September) at 1pm.
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Dr Anna Kennedy OBE is an educator who has worked to provide an improved education and other facilities for children with autism spectrum disorders.
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