Trauma expertise to be available 24/7 at new centres of excellence
A network of 22 trauma centres specialising in treating patients with life-threatening injuries is to be developed across England in an effort to save more than 600 lives every year.
The new facilities will provide round-the-clock life-saving treatment for the most seriously-injured patients, including those with severe burns, head injuries, spinal injuries, stab or gunshot wounds and those who have been in car accidents.
Working alongside local hospital trauma units, the major trauma centres will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will be staffed by consultant-led specialist teams with access to state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment facilities.
For far too long, people have needlessly died from major trauma injuries because some local hospitals were not equipped with the right facilities or specialist teams to treat those with life-threatening injuries quickly
Previously, patients who suffered major trauma would be taken to the nearest hospital, regardless of whether it had the necessary skills, facilities or equipment to deal with serious medical conditions. This often meant patients ended up being transferred, causing delays in treatment.
The new network, announced by Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, means ambulances will in future take seriously-injured patients directly to a specialist centre where they will be assessed immediately and treated by a full specialist trauma team which will include orthopaedics , neurosurgeons, radiologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists.
Lansley said: “For far too long, people have needlessly died from major trauma injuries because some local hospitals were not equipped with the right facilities or specialist teams to treat those with life-threatening injuries quickly.
“I have always said that patients should be at the heart of the NHS and that services should be arranged around their needs, not how hospitals are organised. Seriously-injured patients need to be assessed and treated quickly. With 22 new trauma centres now opening across England with a full specialist trauma team, we hope to save up to 600 lives a year.”
The Department of Health is also introducing a trauma prescription, whereby patients with serious injuries will be given a rehabilitation programme describing their recovery plan in detail.
This new system is a great example of the difference that can be made to patients’ lives by having all the expertise, experience and equipment in one place
Professor Keith Willett, national clinical director for trauma care at the Department of Health, said studies show that major trauma centres help to save lives and reduce the risk of serious disability. For example, a patient who has suffered a serious head injury can receive a CT scan within 30 minutes, allowing medics to respond quickly to reduce the risk of brain damage.
He added: “Thanks to the advances in medicine and technology, patients are now able to survive horrific injuries that previously would have killed them. This is down to the very advanced medical skills that are available in a range of specialities in certain major centres in the NHS. This expertise must be available for all patients, regardless of where they have been injured. At the accident scene the exact injuries are rarely known.
“That is why we have introduced the major trauma networks, which should save up to 600 lives a year. This new system is a great example of the difference that can be made to patients’ lives by having all the expertise, experience and equipment in one place.”
The centres will be located at the following hospitals: Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, Frenchay and Southmead hospitals in Bristol, James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, Leeds General Infirmary, the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, Southampton General Hospital, Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Hull Royal Infirmary, the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Royal Preston Hospital, University Hospital Coventry, University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and Sheffield Children’s Hospital. There will also be a collaborative centres in Manchester spread across Manchester Royal Infirmary, Salford Royal Hospital and the University Hospital South Manchester; and in Liverpool involving Aintree University Hospital, the Walton Centre and Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
It is estimated that there are 20,000 serious trauma incidents every year in England.