7:3 gender split for most serious injuries

Tuesday 25th June 2019

Men make up seven out of ten of Scots suffering the most serious injuries caused by things like road accidents, falls and fights, according to health service statistics published today.

The most common cause of ‘major trauma’ for men is vehicle accidents – a category including trains, cars and bicycles – while for women it’s falls from two metres or less.

Just under 1,000 Scots sustained these injuries in 2018, with 21% dying from them.

Alcohol was a contributing factor in many cases – either because the patient was drunk or someone else involved in the accident was – applying to nearly a third of male major trauma cases in 2018.

The gender breakdown is mirrored among children, where boys comprised two-thirds of major trauma patients.

Today’s statistics, recorded by the Scottish Trauma Audit Group, show many Scots are not getting the right level of care quickly enough.

There was ‘wide variability’ across the 27 hospitals providing figures when it came to targets for cases like severe head injuries, open long bone fractures and severe haemorrhages.

For example, just 41% of patients received CT scans in eight hours after a severe head injury.  

In future, hospitals that are below average on key measures will be asked to set out how they are addressing this.

Yet some health centres hit 100%.

Dr Luke Regan of Raigmore hospital in Inverness told the network his workplace’s strong performance on CT scanning was down to a “particularly wonderful radiography team who have been willing to sacrifice tea breaks and stay a bit late to catch up when emergency patients are slotted in.”

Major trauma – defined by NICE as injury or a combination of injuries that could be life-threatening or lead to serious long-term disability – is a leading cause of death and disability for people aged under 45.

These cases pose additional challenges to emergency doctors because of their severity and because they often occur in the evenings or on weekends.

NHS Scotland is developing major trauma centres in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen with specialist services and expertise where patients with the most serious injuries will be fast-tracked to.