EXCL Rebecca Long-Bailey apologises for describing constituent with brain damage as a 'practical vegetable'

Posted On: 
3rd February 2020

Rebecca Long-Bailey has said sorry after she described a man who was left brain damaged following an accident as being a "practical vegetable".

Rebecca Long-Bailey has apologised for describing a brain damaged man as being a "practical vegetable".
Credit: 
PA

The Labour leadership hopeful said she apologised "without reservation" after she used the term to describe the husband of a constituent who was left in a care home following a serious accident.

Speaking at a hustings event in Bristol on Saturday, the Shadow Business Secretary said she had been gifted a bottle of wine after she helped secure a medical review for the man, who was told there was "no hope" by care staff.

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But describing how the man was being moved to a new treatment programme following her intervention, Ms Long-Bailey said he had gone from being "a practical vegetable" to having "hope for the future".

"I promised him that we'd get some consultants in, we'd speak to the clinical commissioning group and we'd get another review done," she told members at the party event.

"And the review happened over Christmas, and the review said the outcome was good. And if he had a different care plan, and he was moved into a different setting, within two years he'd be back home and potentially able to get a job and be back in employment.

"And from where he was as a practical vegetable to having that hope for the future, that made me realise how important my job was to fight for people who didn't have a voice."

But her use of the term has been branded "very unfortunate" by Chloe Hayward from the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum, who said she should have instead used the phrase "vegetative state".

"We are very pleased that Rebecca Long-Bailey has been so supportive of this family, and that she is aware of the need for appropriate neurorehabilitation services and the lengths families need to go to to fight for appropriate care and support," Ms Hayward said.

"It is very unfortunate that Rebecca used the phrase 'practical vegetable'.

"It is probable that the term 'vegetative state' was the one she was looking for which refers to a person who has a disorder of consciousness."

A spokesperson for Ms Long-Bailey told PoliticsHome her use of the phrase was a "mistake" and that she had intended instead to say the man was "practically in a vegetative state".

"Rebecca wanted to emphasise that the person she helped had suffered a severe brain injury," they said.

"She meant to say that they were practically in a vegetative state, and apologises for her mistake without reservation."