New major Trauma Centres to save up to 600 lives every year
A network of 22 new centres specialising in treating patients who suffer from major trauma will open across England, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced.
These specialist trauma centres will provide round-the-clock life saving treatment for seriously injured patients such as those who have head injuries, stab wounds or have been in a car accident.
Working alongside local hospital trauma units, 22 Major Trauma Centres will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and be staffed by consultant-led specialist teams with access to the best state of the art diagnostic and treatment facilities.
Previously, patients who suffered major trauma were simply taken to the nearest hospital, regardless of whether it had the skills, facilities or equipment to deal with such serious injuries. This often meant patients could end up being transferred, causing delays in people receiving the right treatment.
The new network means ambulances will take seriously injured patients directly to a specialist centre where they will be assessed immediately and treated by a full specialist trauma team. Patients who have suffered a severe injury often need complex reconstructive surgery and care from many professionals, and so the trauma team includes orthopaedics, neurosurgeons, radiologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists.
Secretary of State for Health Andrew 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 patients 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 staffed with a full specialist trauma team, we hope to save up to 600 lives a year."
Many patients need a personalised rehabilitation programme taking many months to help them return to an active life. From April, every major trauma patient will be given a rehabilitation prescription which describes their recovery plan in detail.
Studies have shown that major trauma centres with dedicated personnel and specialist equipment save more 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 doctors to respond quickly to reduce the risk of brain damage.
Professor Keith Willett, National Clinical Director for Trauma Care at the Department of Health, said: "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 specialties 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."
Each Major Trauma Centre will be supported by a network of local trauma units, responsible for treating less serious injuries such as fractures and minor head injuries.