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New lifeline for patients with life-threatening injuries

User AvatarPosted by Samuel Jackson at 15/04/2013 14:09:44

People in Maidstone, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks with life-threatening injuries now have a better chance of surviving than ever before, thanks to a new trauma network which will offer world-class care round-the-clock.

Every year, around 700 of the 1.7million people who live in Kent and Medway are really seriously injured.

They need specialist treatment - such as neurosurgery - to give them the best chance of surviving, and recovering without long-term disability.

The South East London, Kent and Medway Trauma Network, which launches in this area today (Monday 8 April), offers a new way of organising their care, giving them the fastest access ever to the best care 24 hours a day.

The National Audit Office estimates that, across the country, major trauma networks will save between 450 and 600 more lives a year.

The hub of the South East London, Kent and Medway Major Trauma Network is the major trauma centre at King’s College Hospital, London where patients have access to state-of-the-art equipment, specialist treatment and the expertise of orthopaedic, neurosurgery and radiology teams 24 hours a day.

It is supported by 24-hour trauma units at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital and Medway Maritime Hospital along with an interim 24-hour trauma unit at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford.[1] Other A&E departments are also important partners in the network.

Trauma unit staff have been given additional training in assessing and treating trauma.

Staff at the local trauma units will stabilise some patients before rapid transfer to the major trauma centre at King’s and will treat those trauma patients who do not need to transfer. The staff treating them will liaise directly with King’s trauma consultants, if they need to.

Ambulance and Kent Air Ambulance crews will work directly with the major trauma network to ensure patients with the most serious injuries are taken to the right place.

Patients may be taken to the nearest A&E for immediate stabilisation – to open their airways, for instance - before being taken to a trauma unit or the major trauma centre.

Mr Rob Bentley, consultant surgeon at King's College Hospital and clinical director of the South East London, Kent and Medway Trauma Network, said: “The launch of the network today is really positive news for everyone in Kent and Medway. Major trauma patients will have better access to highly skilled and experienced trauma clinicians and the most advanced treatments in the world, 24 hours a day.

“Having the highest level of expertise, experience and equipment in one place will help us save more lives.

“All emergency hospitals in Kent and Medway have been involved in planning the network with King’s College Hospital, along with South East Coast Ambulance Service and Kent Air Ambulance, to ensure the arrangements are as effective as possible.

“Around 700 people suffer major trauma injuries, such as serious head injuries, stabbing or gunshot wounds, pelvic fractures or amputations, in Kent and Medway every year. The majority are caused by road traffic collisions.

“The new system will equip ambulance and air ambulance crews and staff at trauma units and A&Es to take life-saving decisions about them faster than ever before, saving lives and reducing long-term disability.”

A&Es in Kent and Medway see more than 490,000 patients a year. The vast majority of patients – including those with injuries such as a broken hip - will continue to be treated at their nearest A&E, as now.

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