A leading head injury specialist based at Southampton’s teaching hospitals says the launch of a nationwide major trauma system in England today (Monday) will revolutionise treatment for critically ill patients across the country – potentially saving up to 20% more lives a year and improving outcomes for many others.
Dr Andy Eynon, director of major trauma at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, believes the development, which sees the creation of 21 dedicated major trauma centres, is one of the “most exciting in the NHS for a generation”.
He spoke out as Southampton General Hospital and the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford began operating officially as the two regional centres responsible for the treatment of adults and children with the most severe injuries.
More than half of all major trauma – the term used to describe life-threatening injuries commonly sustained through road traffic accidents, falls, violence or sporting injuries – happens on the road and it is twice as common in urban areas than rural parts of the country.
“This is one of the most exciting and necessary developments in urgent care we have seen in the NHS in England for a generation and is the first step towards a co-ordinated attack on the most common cause of death for people under the age of 40,” said Dr Eynon, who is also a consultant in neurosciences intensive care and vice-president of the brain injury charity Headway.
“Having nationwide networks, which have been established in the USA and Australia for many years and, since 2010, in London, where an additional 52 lives were saved in the first year of operation, could potentially save 20% more lives and will improve outcomes for many other patients.”
Southampton General Hospital and the John Radcliffe Hospital have the full range of specialist surgical, intensive care and supporting services potentially required for patients who suffer major trauma.
From today, those patients will bypass their local hospital and instead go directly to Southampton or Oxford if their injury occurs within a 45-minute drive.
Patients who are injured further afield will be taken to their nearest trauma unit, assessed and resuscitated before being rapidly transferred if their injuries require specialist intervention.
Dr Eynon added: “The development of this network in the south and those across England gives patients the best chance of surviving and recovering from major trauma due to immediate access to the right professionals, teams and equipment at anytime of the day or night – the benefits of going direct to a hospital that can provide all the necessary care hugely outweigh the risk of the additional drive time.”
Latest data from the Trauma Audit Research Network ranks Southampton among the top hospitals in the country for outcomes from major trauma injury, with an extra three patients in every 100 surviving the most serious injuries compared to the national average.
Posted on Monday 2 April 2012