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Trauma centres are 'saving more lives', says NHS England

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Hundreds of lives are being saved every year thanks to a change in the way trauma patients are cared for, a new review suggests.

Since the introduction of regional trauma centres patients in England have a 30% better chance of surviving severe injuries, according to a review by the Trauma Audit and Research Network.

This equates to around 600 lives since the centres came to being in April 2012, the network said.

“This is a major success story – more people are surviving serious injuries because they are taken straight to specialist trauma teams”

Simon Stevens

Experts said that more people are surviving because they are taken straight to specialist teams who know how to treat such injuries.

As well as a reduction in the number of deaths, thousands more patients are walking away from severe injuries without permanent disabilities.

There are 25 of these centres dotted around England. Before their introduction, trauma patients were taken to their local hospitals but concerns were raised that these organisations did not always have the specialist care that these patients urgently need.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens was due to applaud the centres when he speaks at the Age UK annual conference in London on 1 July.

“This is a major success story – more people are surviving serious injuries because they are taken straight to specialist trauma teams who identify life-threatening problems quicker and perform life-saving operations earlier,” he will say.

Simon Stevens

Simon Stevens

“That’s about 600 fewer lives cut short, 600 fewer bereaved families,” he said.

“The NHS of the future will be one where more support for frail older patients is provided locally, but where for really major conditions, patients get quick access to centres of excellence. We need both – not either/or,” he added.

“This reminds us that healthcare is constantly changing and the NHS needs to adapt with it. Sometimes we need to centralise in order to save lives, at other times we need to make services more local to meet the needs of patients.”

“By any international standard, these figures speak for themselves”

Chris Moran

Professor Chris Moran, national clinical director for trauma, said: “People are rightly quick to point out where the NHS falls down, but this report shows our NHS at its best.

“By any international standard, these figures speak for themselves,” he said. “The figures also serve as a stark reminder that where change saves life and improves care, we must be flexible and prepared to change the system rapidly to deliver the care that our patients deserve.”

He added: “One thing that has surprised us is that major trauma doesn’t just affect young men on motorbikes. The NHS is now successfully treating large numbers of patients who have retired but remain fit and active and suffer injuries similar to young people.”

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