For several years, ELoH co-founder and trustee Sarah Hope has campaigned for better provision of prosthetic limbs for amputees in the UK – and last week her campaign achieved an important victory. In the Budget announcement, the Chancellor announced that the government will spend £1.5 million on running limbs for amputee children in the UK. It is great news for hundreds of children who will be able to walk, skip, jump and run, just like their peers. According to the Chancellor it “was all down to Sarah’s initiative” and it shows that tireless campaigning can achieve great results.
The wonderful news was covered in a number of media outlets. The Daily Telegraph published an article about the budget provision as well as an opinion piece by Sarah. The local newspapers St Albans and Harpenden Review and Hertfordshire Advertiser also covered the story.
Moreover, Sarah was invited to talk about amputees and the Budget announcement on BBC Breakfast and Channel 4’s John Snow produced a story about Sarah and Sarah’s daughter Pollyanna which can be found here. Pollyanna became an amputee at the age of two after a terrible bus collision in London and she is a living proof of what a difference a running blade can make for a child of her age.
At ELoH we are very glad that the cause of amputee children has gained national media coverage. Worldwide there are an estimated 32 million amputees and a vast majority of them do not receive the medical or social support they need; in developing countries 90% of amputee children do not go to school and only 5% receive prosthetic limbs, which means they are unable to walk. Disabled people are also disproportionately affected by poverty and many times excluded from the job market.
In the UK, the NHS has had a “walk, don’t run” policy towards prosthetic services which means that they have only provided walking prosthetics, and not running legs, for amputees. This means 2,500 children in the UK have been denied the right to run, skip, jump, swim or participate in any other activity that their peers do on a daily basis. In Sarah’s words:
“Running and jumping are second nature to any child, including amputees. But despite their hunger and desperation to compete, they just can’t. On school sports days the cruel difficulty of running becomes apparent as they try – and fail – to match their classroom friends.”
The provision of the £1.5 million is an important step in the right direction and it will make a huge difference for many amputee children who will be able to lead active lives. However, it is just the beginning of the larger campaign for the provision of prosthetics for amputees in the UK. As Sarah says:
“The much-needed cash announced today is a one off. The next step could be for the NHS to provide activity limbs for amputee children who need them, when they grow out of them.”
“It is only when the NHS can provide free running blades to British children if they want them that we will start to make real progress on building on the wonderful legacy of the 2012 Paralympics.”
For more information about the Budget announcement follow the links above. If you want to learn more about Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope and the vital medical and social support we provide for child amputees in developing countries click on this link.