Major Trauma - Four Hubs Could Save 40 Lives a Year

Up to 40 lives a year could be saved by plans to set up four new specialist major trauma centres, as part of an enhanced network of care for major trauma patients in Scotland.

People with serious injuries, such as those who have been in a serious car accident, or who experience severe head injuries, will be initially cared for at the centres.

The four bases, which will be operational from 2016, will offer lifesaving treatment to around 1200 patients per year.

By speeding up access to specialist care and treatment, the changes could save up to 40 lives each year.

The centres will be located at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, and the new Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

Health Secretary Alex Neil announced the plans during a visit to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where he met with patient Peter McCarron who has previously experienced major trauma care.

These hubs will form part of a new national major trauma network, which will mean that where possible, people who experience major trauma will be taken directly to one of the four specialist centres.

This will ensure they are assessed and treated immediately by a specialist team with access to the wide range of specialist facilities and treatments needed.

Local hospitals will continue to care for people with less serious injuries, such as fractures and minor head injuries, and may still deal with a very small number of major trauma cases, particularly where patients are unable to reach a major trauma unit within a reasonable time period.

Local hospitals will also play a key role in the ongoing care and rehabilitation of patients, helping them to return to care close to home, in the shortest possible time.

Speaking as he visited the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Alex Neil said:

“It is important that patients who experience major trauma injuries get access to specialist care and treatment within the shortest possible timescale.

“This network of specialist centres will ensure that patients can be taken directly to the most appropriate place for treatment, and reduce any delay in receiving the treatment they need.

“By ensuring patients have timely access to the highest level of expertise and medical facilities, this could save up to 40 lives each year.

“These changes are part of plans to enhance major trauma services across Scotland and deliver the very best possible outcomes for people who experience life-threatening injuries.

“The national network will involve the Scottish Ambulance Service, specialist major trauma centres and local hospitals working together to make a real difference to the lives of seriously-injured people inScotland.

Patient Peter McCarron, 53, from Kelty in Fife, experienced major trauma care following a workplace accident 11 years ago when he was working as a mechanical fitter.

He suffered multiple traumatic injuries to his spine and pelvis and spent three months in Queen Margaret Hospital in Fife.

Since undergoing his accident, Peter has used his own experience of major trauma care as a patient representative on the Scottish Trauma Audit Group steering group, to help shape these plans.

He said: “The care I received on the day of the accident saved my life. I've always had the idea that if you were taken to hospital, then you were going there to be fixed as something in the body was broken.

“I'm glad to say that they were able to fix me, but only to a point. Because people are all different, then it follows that all traumas are different. As people are individuals, then each trauma has to be treated to what the individual needs and this adds to the complex methods needed to ensure the patient will not only survive but to have a reasonable standard of life afterwards.

“The amount of different staff from a large variety of departments is needed to not only help the patient survive in the first instance, but to help them develop and to cope so that the trauma doesn't then rule their lives.”

Dr Dave Caesar, Clinical Director of Emergency Medicine, NHS Lothian, said:

“The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Emergency Department is the biggest adult receiving unit in Scotland and thrives on delivering true emergency critical care to such a high number of patients.

“It is an exciting time for trauma medicine in Edinburgh and we are pleased to have been selected as one of Scotland’s four major trauma centres.

“We believe our department offers the opportunity to improve the practical, clinical and non-technical skills required to manage these challenging patients.”

Notes to Editors

Trauma is the leading cause of death for people under 40. Each year inScotland, around 5000 people are seriously injured, with around 1100-1200 cases being defined as ‘major trauma’.

The National Planning Forum (NPF) has been exploring possible ways to enhance existing major trauma services in Scotland, and recommended setting up a network of four major trauma centres.

Major trauma is serious injury and includes such injuries as:

  • multiple injuries to different parts of the body
  • major head injury
  • severe knife and gunshot wounds
  • spinal injury
  • traumatic injury requiring amputation of a limb
  • severe burns