Posted on 20/08/2018 by
1,600 lives saved by NHS major trauma centres
More than 1,600 lives have been saved since the launch of NHS major trauma centres six years ago, new figures have revealed.
The 27 designated major trauma centres have been operating at hospitals across the UK since April 2012, playing a vital role in saving the lives of victims of knife, gun and acid attack crimes.
They see seriously injured patients sent directly to the designated major trauma centres, bypassing smaller, local hospitals that offered less specialist care.
People who are seriously injured in stabbings or road crashes in the Black Country are normally flown or driven to Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, one of the major trauma centres.
Victims in Staffordshire can also be taken to the trauma unit at the Royal Stoke Hospital, while, in some cases, seriously hurt children are directed to Birmingham Children's Hospital.
Experts said 1,656 people who would 'probably have died' had been saved by being taken directly to hospitals better equipped to deal with life-threatening injuries.
An independent report showed patients also spent fewer days in hospital and had improved quality of life after receiving critical care.
The analysis of more than 110,000 patients admitted to 35 hospitals between 2008 and 2017 shows an increase of nearly a fifth in the odds of survival from severe injury in the five years from 2012.
Researchers calculated there were 595 additional survivors in 2017 - five years after the new system started - so they are ahead of the target for the eventual 450 to 600 additional survivors that NHS England predicted when the reorganisation was announced.
The report was compiled by the Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) based at the University of Manchester and supported by experts at the Universities of Leicester and Sheffield.
Timothy Coats, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Leicester and consultant in emergency medicine at Leicester's hospitals, described the new system as a 'fantastic achievement'.
He said: "These findings demonstrate and support the importance of major trauma networks to urgent care with figures showing there were 90 more survivors in 2013 rising to an additional 595 in 2017.
"Over the course of the five years 1,656 people have survived major trauma injuries where before they would probably have died.
"It also shows that with changes to the way patients are treated from the moment doctors and paramedics get to them."
Trauma remains the most common cause of death in those under the age of 40 in England, with survivors often suffering long-term disability.
The National Audit Office (NAO) estimates there are 20,000 major trauma cases a year, with 5,400 deaths.
NHS England's medical director for acute care, Professor Keith Willett, who led the changes in 2012 and now leads the wider NHS urgent and emergency care review, said: "We have made major advances in urgent care over the last five years as this study demonstrates.
"As the NHS develops its 10-year plan, the success of major trauma centres will help inform how we deliver better care for patients through the use of specialist clinical networks."
Professor Chris Moran, NHS England's national clinical director for trauma care, said: "This study shows that changes to trauma care, designed by clinicians, are saving hundreds of lives every year.
"Patients suffering severe injury need to get to the right specialist centre staffed by experts, not simply the nearest hospital.
The NAO recommended setting up a network of trauma centres in a damning report in 2010, in which it described how road accident, stabbing and shooting casualties received 'unacceptable' variations in care depending on the hospital they were taken to.