N&N hospital sets up new trauma unit
Sarah BrealeyNorfolk's biggest hospital is setting up a team to deal with seriously injured patients following calls for improvements to save lives. The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital does not currently have a dedicated trauma team, despite a recommendation from the Royal College of Surgeons in 2000 that all hospitals receiving major trauma cases should have one.Sarah Brealey
Norfolk's biggest hospital is setting up a team to deal with seriously injured patients following calls for improvements to save lives.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital does not currently have a dedicated trauma team, despite a recommendation from the Royal College of Surgeons in 2000 that all hospitals receiving major trauma cases should have one. Major trauma affects 20,000 people a year in England. It means serious injuries which could lead to death or disability, usually caused by road crashes.
National changes in how these cases are dealt with will see regional trauma networks set up to improve specialist care. It means seriously injured patients will be more likely to be taken to a specialist hospital. The region's NHS plans to create one major trauma centre for the region - probably Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge or the N&N, but no decision has been made.
But although more than 80pc of hospitals receiving trauma cases have specialist teams, the N&N does not. A report from the National Audit Office last week said that it is important for these teams to be available around the clock and to be led by a consultant, echoing the recommendations made in 2000. Steps are now being taken to set a team up at the N&N.
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And although national recommendations say that patients with serious head injuries should go to a neurosurgical centre - which in this region is Addenbrooke's - only half of these patients are transferred there from the N&N. This fits in with the national picture, which shows that 60pc of people with serious head injuries are not transferred to a specialist centre, despite the fact that survival rates are better there. The NAO report says: 'Reasons for this vary and can be due to the condition of the patient, but in other cases is due to a lack of capacity or a formal system through which to arrange the transfer.'
Figures on major trauma cases show that the death rate at both the N&N and James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston was slightly higher than expected. The death rate at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn for these cases was slightly lower than expected but the death rate at Addenbrooke's lower still. The figures come from the National Trauma Audit and Research Network.
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N&N spokesman Andrew Stronach said: 'We don't currently have a dedicated trauma team but are in the process of establishing one.
'At the moment the A&E clinical co-ordinator will take the call from ambulance and then alert the immediate A&E team, ie senior doctor, experienced nurse, radiographer and call for any other specialists that might needed.'
An NHS East of England spokesman said: 'We recognise that significant improvements can be made to improve outcomes for the small number of patients who require major trauma care. The first 30 minutes is often critical to a major trauma patient's survival and a new regional trauma network will ensure pre-hospital care becomes much more co-ordinated.
'The new network will strengthen the decision-making process used to determine where a trauma patient needs to go to get the treatment they need. For most trauma patients this will still be their local hospital but for those few patients with major trauma this may be to the regional major trauma centre.'
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Numbers of deaths from serious trauma over and above what would have been expected, per 100 cases, 2006-9
QEH - 0.5
Percentage of serious head injury patients who survived
JPH Data not available
QEH Data not available