Trauma unit launched in Gloucestershire


More lives are expected to be saved by a new trauma care network launched by NHS South of England as part of a national commitment to improve major trauma care.  The arrangements will see hospitals across the region working together to provide the best care for people with the most complex and serious injuries. Our region’s system is scheduled to formally launch on 2 April 2012.

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital (GRH) has a vital role in this new network as a Trauma Unit, working closely with the Major Trauma Centre in Bristol. The establishment of a single Trauma Unit for the county does not affect accident and emergency services at the Trust, and A&E Departments will continue at both Cheltenham General Hospital and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

The major trauma system will provide high-quality specialist major trauma care and rehabilitation, with patients having a much better chance of surviving and recovering from a major trauma injury.  Patients will have direct access to specialist teams and state-of-the-art equipment to ensure they receive immediate treatment, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Under the new arrangements, the most critically injured patients will be taken directly to a major trauma centre if their condition allows them to travel directly, or to a trauma unit where they will be received by a senior team for resuscitation, and then either treated there or transferred as their condition dictates.

The new system aims to:

  • Save more lives
  • Reduce long-term disability by improving outcomes for adults and children involved in major trauma
  • Help severely injured patients return to a life that is normal or as near normal as possible

Chief Executive Dr Frank Harsent said: “The new network will improve the way major trauma patients are treated from the moment the emergency is reported. As a designated Trauma Unit, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital will play a vital role in this system, and ensure the full range of emergency services is available for people in the county when they need it.”

GRH was chosen as the preferred site for the Trauma Unit due to the need for it to be co-located with Paediatric and Obstetric emergency services.  GRH will have a vital role in optimising major trauma patients who are too unstable to be taken directly to the Major Trauma Centre, and in the repatriation of patients from Major Trauma Centres for rehabilitation.

Commenting on the new Trauma Unit, Mr Aidan Fowler, Chief of Service, Surgical Division said: “There is now a considerable body of evidence demonstrating that people with major trauma do much better if they are cared for in specialist trauma services, as part of a clinically managed trauma network, which has immediately available all the necessary specialist staff and equipment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“We believe that these changes will mean that the chances of survival for severely injured patients will improve.”



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Notes to Editors

What is major trauma?

Major trauma is defined as serious injuries which threaten life, including:

  • Above the knee amputation
  • Major head injuries
  • Multiple injuries, both internal and external
  • Spinal injury, which could lead to paralysis
  • Severe knife and gunshot wounds

Patients with major trauma are those with serious, multiple injuries that require 24 hours a day and 7 days a week emergency access to a wide range of clinical services and specialist staff.

What is the difference between major trauma and trauma? Major trauma only concerns the most serious injuries. Trauma includes all other types of injuries such as a fractured hip or other bones and minor head injuries.

Benefits for patients Patients with severe/multiple injuries will have a better chance of survival in a major trauma centre and a much better recovery and quality of life for the future.

Adult and children’s major trauma – differences

GRH has been accredited as a Trauma Unit for both adult and children.  The new arrangements will be equivalent for children in the vast majority of cases, with the only exception being that the clinical team may decide it is more appropriate for a child to be taken to Bristol Children’s Hospital, rather than the Major Trauma Centre at Frenchay, if they require a particular type of surgery.


Ambulance journey times / time to treatment

Under the new network arrangements, the intention is to make sure patients reach specialist treatment as quickly as possible.  Ambulance teams are trained to triage patients and decide whether they can safely travel to the Major Trauma Centre directly or need to be taken to the nearest Trauma Unit.  If they are more than 45 minutes from the MTC then they will divert to the nearest Trauma Unit.


Expected patient flow

National statistics indicate that there are approximately 200 major trauma patients per year for our population, however a fair proportion of these already go directly to Frenchay hospital in Bristol due to the nature of their injuries.  We estimate that fewer than 100 patients per year across both sites will be affected by the new arrangements.