‘Fantastic success’ of trauma centres as survival rate jumps
A NATIONAL network of trauma centres controversially set up six years ago across England has saved more than 1,600 lives, research shows.
The system of bypassing local hospital A&E units for those with serious injuries, even if that means ambulances travelling further, has increased the chance of survival by nearly a fifth, an independent report revealed.
The 27 designated major trauma centres have been operating since April 2012, treating victims of knife, gun and acid attack crimes.
The report, which features in the latest issue of Eclinicalmedicine, found 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 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 – in line with forecasts that it would ultimately save an extra 450-600 patients a year.
The report was compiled by the Trauma Audit and Research Network based at the University of Manchester and supported by experts at Leicester and Sheffield universities.
Prof 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.
“Thanks to the skills of NHS staff, we are confident that we will continue to see further increases in survival rates for this group of patients.”
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.”
Trauma is 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 estimates there are 20,000 major trauma cases a year, with 5,400 deaths.
Prof Keith Willett, NHS England’s medical director for acute care, who led the changes in 2012 and now leads a wider review of urgent and emergency care, suggested other specialist areas may benefit from some centralisation.