In response to a critical report on NHS trauma services, published by the Royal College of Surgeons and British Orthopaedic Association last month, a DH spokesperson confirmed that the government recognised that ‘trauma services fall short of what should be expected’.
‘That is why the NHS is now taking forward the development of trauma centres and we are appointing a specialist trauma tsar to lead nationally on trauma policy,’ he said.
The report concluded that the NHS was failing to provide adequate care for trauma patients because of the pressure of conflicting targets.
For example, specialist trauma teams are often unable to accept patients with serious injuries from other hospitals without specialist teams, because they risk breaking their own trust’s targets for planned elective surgery.
‘This causes trauma patients to remain marooned in an inappropriate hospital and suffer poor care and long delays in receiving an operation,’ the report says.
However, the DH spokesperson denied that service standards were being compromised by targets.
‘It is not the case that trauma care suffers because priority is given to elective surgery,’ he said. ‘It is not an either or,’ he added.