By: 26 April 2017
New beds at RNOH spinal cord injury centre will significantly reduce waiting times

Construction has begun on the expansion of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital’s London Spinal Cord Injury Centre in Stanmore

The service run by the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) is being expanded to offer additional beds for adults with spinal cord injuries. The RNOH, one of only eight centres in the UK, currently provides 34 beds for patients with a spinal cord injury, and will be increased to accommodate six additional adult beds.

The London Spinal Cord Injury Centre (LSCIC) expansion project will be carried out in two phases: during the first, a consultation room and new reception area will be built alongside offices to accommodate extra staff. In phase two, the wing housing the six extra beds will be built, and it is anticipated that the service will be in full operation from April 2017.

Michelle Conlon, LSCIC programme manager, said: “With referrals to the RNOH increasing year on year, these extra beds are crucial for people with a spinal injury. Current waiting times for a bed can be up to two months, meaning that patients are having to wait in hospitals where their needs aren’t being met. The expansion will enable us to significantly reduce waiting times and provide the specialist treatment these patients require much sooner.”

Expansion of the service will also create more jobs within the hospital. Recruitment has already begun for the multidisciplinary team (MDT) with fantastic opportunities for all clinical, nursing, therapies and administrative staff. A full range of current vacancies at the hospital can be found on the NHS Jobs website

The LSCIC’s nursing staff is made up of three different roles – staff nurses, rehabilitation assistants and healthcare assistants, each of which have specific, and also overlapping, tasks that enable the unit to have a systematic approach to meeting the nursing care needs of patients with spinal cord injuries.

The complex needs of patients with spinal cord injuries are managed by the MDT: medical team, nurses, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, dietetics, psychologist and community liaison. The centre acknowledges that the specialised knowledge, skills and attitudes of every member of the MDT are required to manage the complex needs of its patients.

In order to meet this need, the ‘Multi-professional care of patients with spinal cord injuries’ course was developed in-house. This event also sets ground for all members of the MDT to come together, promote camaraderie and learn from each expertise (inter-professional education).

Given the impact that a spinal cord injury has on the psychological status of a person, the SNAPS study day (Stanmore Nursing Assessment of Psychological Status) was created. This study day is held three times a year and is mandated for all nursing staff members. Each staff will then attend this training every two years as an update. The aim of this study day is for staff to be able to learn therapeutic communication skills and improve professional relationships with patients with spinal cord injuries.

Once nursing staff have passed their probationary period, they will then become candidates for achieving a BSc Honours degree in Professional Nursing Practice in spinal cord injury care at the London Southbank University.

In order to facilitate the centre, The RNOH Charity raised more than £400,000 towards the LSCIC expansion through the innovative crowdfunding platform; this is the first ever crowdfunding campaign undertaken by an NHS charity. The campaign experienced an overwhelming response from patients and staff. Funds raised will be used towards the expansion and to purchase specialist equipment for spinal cord-injured patients.

Rosie Stolarski, director of fundraising and development, said: “The Make It Possible platform has provided a new and innovative way of sourcing funding for vital facilities like the RNOH’s world-renowned Spinal Cord Injury Centre. The money raised will help rebuild the lives of spinal cord-injured patients and allow the RNOH to extend their life-changing care to many more patients in need. We are so grateful to those who supported this campaign.”

Rob Hurd, RNOH chief executive, said: “The expansion of the spinal cord injury centre means the RNOH can continue to deliver the expert care it is renowned for to the patients that need it most. The crowdfunding investment in extra staff and facilities will result in patients getting the specialist care they need quicker, ensuring that their rehabilitation is started as soon as possible. We know this is a crucial factor in delivering effective care to spinal cord injury patients. The expanded service and extra highly trained staff means the RNOH will maintain the critical mass of expertise under one roof. This is just one part of the long-term sustainability of world-class musculoskeletal medicine at Stanmore that will benefit patients for years to come. Thank you to all the donors and The RNOH Charity for their generous help in making this possible.”


Caption: Physiotherapist Laura Bochkoltz providing rehabilitation.


For more information on the RNOH, visit