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About the State Spinal Cord Injury Service

The NSW State Spinal Cord Injury Service (SSCIS) works to ensure that people with spinal cord injuries in NSW receive the highest quality services which support recovery following injury, monitor, manage and stabilise long term health impact, and facilitate individual independence, achievement of personal goals, and return to a fulfilling life in the community.

Spinal Cord Injury

For patients, entry into the spinal cord injury service is an unanticipated, unwanted catastrophic life change and for most, the commencement of a life-long association with a complex array of services.

Persisting spinal cord injury impacts on every aspect of a person's life. Effective management of the acute phase of spinal cord injury and addressing life-long health and disability needs calls on a wide range of clinical, social and technical resources, requiring a whole-of-government approach to service provision and co-ordination. Though relatively rare, spinal cord injury has a significant impact on public sector services and resources.

Spinal cord injury continues to have a significant impact on the lives of affected patients. However, because of improved continuing care, particularly of skin, respiratory, bladder, renal, bowel and psychological conditions, the life expectancy of patients is estimated to be 70 per cent of the normal life expectancy for people with complete tetraplegia, 84 per cent for people with complete paraplegia and at least 90 per cent for those with an incomplete lesion. This increase in life expectancy has been a major achievement during the past 12 to 15 years and comes through the recognition of spinal cord injuries as a specialty, which has led to improvements in a range of areas including research, training and standards of care.

This success is also a reflection of the population's own efforts in the areas of advocacy, disability rights and establishing significant non-government organisations, such as Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and ParaQuad NSW, to support people living with a spinal cord injury.

The network has a strong focus in both metropolitan and rural NSW. About one third of people who sustain a spinal cord injury return to live in rural areas of NSW. A lack of specialised services and fewer healthcare providers can present challenges for patients in these areas.

Our People

James Middleton

James Middleton, Director and Chair
Director, NSW Statewide Spinal Cord Injury Service
Agency for Clinical Innovation

Jacqui Cornell

Jacqui Cornell, Allied Health / Nursing Co-Chair
Rehabilitation Clinical Nurse Consultant
Southern IS Local Health District

Tony Jones

Tony Jones, Consumer Co-Chair

Jacqui Cornell

Jacqui is employed as a Rehabilitation Clinical Nurse Consultant in Southern ISLHD. This includes three hospitals and an outpatient catchment of 150km down the South Coast of New South Wales. She brings with her over 25 years experience in a variety of clinical areas, as well as obtaining have a Graduate Certificates in both Emergency Nursing and Gerontology & Rehabilitation Nursing. Within her role, she coordinates a Spinal Cord Injury outpatient clinic alongside a Rehabilitation Physician for people within Southern ISHLD. She links in with Sydney based services to support patients living in their local area. She was instrumental in the re-establishment of the POWH Illawarra Spinal Seating Auxiliary Clinic, providing specialist seating services to residents of the Illawarra-Shoalhaven region.

She has been an active member of the SCI network over recent years, with membership of SSCIS Psychosocial Steering Committee, NSW Spinal Nurses and SSCIS Pressure Injury Champions Groups. She has been invited to present at both Australian and International Spinal Nurse Conferences.

Tony Jones

For the past 10 years Tony has worked in disability advocacy for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA), most recently as the Policy and Advocacy Manage, where he manages a team providing individual and systemic advocacy in support of people with SCI and similar disabilities. He has extensive knowledge of current disability policy and a state and national level and a very good understanding of the disability reforms that have been underway over the last decade.

He has experience as a policy advisor for a NSW member of parliament as well as serving on the Central and Eastern Sydney PHN Disability Network. He continues to be a member of the steering committee of the Disability Advocacy Alliance.

Tony brings a lived experience of spinal cord injury following a fall from a balcony many years ago, resulting in C5/6 spinal cord injury.

The ACI State Spinal Cord Injury Service is led by a clinical development committee which includes doctors, nurses, allied health staff, non-government organisations and consumers. 

The service has more than 200 members and includes clinicians, consumers and representatives from the NSW Ministry of Health, local health districts, specialty network governed health corporations and non-government organisations.

The ACI State Spinal Cord Injury Service has also established a database to track research, statistics and quality in spinal cord injury services.

Priorities

  • To finalise the Acute Spinal Cord Injury Transfer Guidelines and distribute across NSW.
  • To develop a statewide model of care for prevention and management of pressure ulcers in people with a spinal cord injury.
  • To complete research to identify psychosocial aspects of spinal cord injury rehabilitation, funded by the Motor Accident Authority (MAA).
  • To work with the NSW Ministry of Health to implement the recommendations of the Selected Specialty and Statewide Service Plan Spinal Cord Injury (number 8) released in December 2010.
  • Other priority areas of the ACI Spinal Cord Injury Network are outlined in the Spinal Cord Injury Plan.

Achievements

Background

The ACI State Spinal Cord Injury Service has been given the mandate to ensure spinal cord injury services are co-ordinated, networked, enhanced and reviewed to best meet the needs of its stakeholders.

The network was originally created as the result of recommendations made by the Greater Metropolitan Services Implementation Group (GMSIG).

SSCIS COMMITTEES

Members of the ACI State Spinal Cord Injury Service (SSCIS) participate in, and contribute to, the network through a range of committees and special interest groups. In late 2014 SSCIS undertook a review its committee structure with the update of some of the terms of reference, establishment of new sub-committees and strengthening of communication between committees, sub-committees, special interest and discipline specific professional networks. These are outlined in the SSCIS Committee Structure.

Terms of Reference