Different Not Less

Different not less news

Medway NHS Foundation Trust is proud to announce the launch of ‘Different Not Less’ – a campaign that aims to improve care for patients with learning disabilities or autism.

The campaign was created by Ginny Bowbrick, a Consultant Vascular Surgeon, who is the mother of autistic twins with severe learning disabilities, after she watched the horrific scenes from Whorlton Hall in the Panorama programme that was broadcast last year.

The programme showed vulnerable adults being verbally and physically abused by those who were meant to be caring for them. Sadly, this was not an isolated incident with reports from Winterbourne View before and Muckamore Abbey Hospital since as further appalling examples.

Ginny Bowbrick, Consultant Vascular Surgeon at Medway NHS Foundation Trust commented:

“It is a disturbing fact that women with a learning disability die 20 years sooner than the general population, and men 13 years sooner.

“Common themes from reviews into these higher death rates are lack of involvement of families, poor decision making and inequality of care.

“The campaign aims to promote equality in care and encourages staff to avoid making assumptions about our patients with autism or learning disabilities and to listen to them and their families”.

The campaign has received high-profile backing from Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins, the founder of Beyond Words, a charity that provides books and training to support people who find pictures easier to understand than words.

Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins, commented:

“As Founder of Beyond Words I am pleased to be able to support the ‘Not Less’ awareness campaign initiated by Ginny Bowbrick at Medway NHS Foundation Trust. Good and appropriate communication is key to successful identification, diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition.

“It is right and fair that all NHS staff have the skills to treat and support people with learning disabilities and autism.  The Long-Term plan has prioritised improving the health and care of people with these labels.

“The key to achieving this aim is building an awareness of the needs of people with a learning disability and autism.  Working with Beyond Words communications materials, the ‘Not Less’ campaign puts these aims into action so that staff at Medway NHS Foundation Trust will build their understanding of how to start conversations in a way that supports and empowers people with learning disability and autism.  The ‘Not Less’ campaign message is as simple as it is clear – to care, to understand and to listen.

James Devine, Chief Executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust commented:

“We are incredibly proud to launch the ‘Not Less’ campaign and would like to thank Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins for her support.

“Our staff have considerable skill and expertise in caring for patients with learning disabilities, but we also understand that we must continue to strive to provide even better care, and that there are some areas of communication and understanding that can be improved.

“We are asking our staff to wear our campaign badge to show patients and their families that they want to care, to listen and to understand."

For more information, please contact communications.medwayft@nhs.net