West of Scotland trauma plans progress

Wednesday 26th June 2019

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has given its go-ahead for a plan that aims to transform the way people suffering major trauma caused by accidents like falls, fights or car crashes in the west of Scotland are treated.

Two major trauma centres are already in operation in Scotland in Aberdeen and Dundee – part of a plan announced by the Scottish Government in 2014 to establish four new centres.

The model will be complete with the opening of centres in the west and east of the country in 2021 and 2022.

The Scottish Government has committed £17m for the development of the west network, which will see the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow become the go-to place for those in the region with the most serious injuries.

Yesterday healthandcare.scot reported that seven in ten of those suffering the most serious trauma injuries were men and that key treatment standards vary widely across Scotland.

It’s hoped the new trauma network will improve the quality and consistency of care.

“The Queen Elizabeth is the ideal place for the care and treatment of those people in Scotland who receive the most serious, life- threatening injuries,” says Dr Jennifer Armstrong, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde’s medical director.

“Evidence shows that you are 15-20% more likely to survive if you are admitted to a major trauma centre. Patients will receive the best possible care from specialised teams providing emergency access to consultants 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Not only that but patients who get this initial treatment are less likely to have a long-term disability and have a better chance of returning to a normal life afterwards, including returning to work and their normal routine and activities.”

The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital is expected to provide care for around 450-550 critically and severely injured patients every year, as well as another 450-550 moderately injured patients – around 700 more patients each year compared to current figures – meaning an additional 40 beds need to be created to deal with admissions from across the west.

The new trauma model will also see the development of rehabilitation services with a highly specialist rehabilitation team providing improved long-term clinical outcomes for patients and families who have experienced trauma.

Dr Armstrong added: “Now approved by our Board, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde will continue to work with other Boards in the Region to develop the model and pathway required to deliver the trauma network configuration.

“To establish optimal trauma care in line with other developments across Scotland, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde will require a redesign of emergency trauma pathways.

“In the main, patients will have their clinics, pre-admission assessment and rehabilitation locally but with specialist surgery provided in centres of excellence covering the whole of the network population.

“International evidence shows that patients do recover better from major injuries in specialist centres followed by care in good rehabilitation centres.

“I have no doubt that this new model of care for the most seriously injured people will help us save more lives and increase the chances of a full recovery for many more.”

The next level of trauma care in the new national model will be trauma units  based at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

These specialist centres will support the trauma pathway delivering expert care for patients suffering complex traumatic injuries.

The final level of care will be managed at local emergency hospitals.

Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock will continue to play a role as a local emergency hospital, receiving general surgery and medical patients.

This new model will mean theatre time will be freed up at Inverclyde Royal Hospital, allowing it to become an elective centre of excellence with continued access to specialist care and an increase in planned operations such as knee replacements.

It’s hoped that nearly 360 more of these operations can be carried out there each year.

Major trauma is the leading cause of death in people under the age of 45 in Scotland and is the significant cause of short and long-term illness and poor health.

Patients are more likely to survive and make a full recovery if they suffer a major trauma in a region where there is a major trauma network, regardless of how far away they are from the major trauma centre.

The benefits of a major trauma network have been seen recently in the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, where patients were treated across several major trauma centres and units.

Mr Angus MacLean, clinical lead of the West of Scotland trauma network, said: “I am delighted that the board has supported plans for the integrated trauma network which will not only save lives but will enhance the care and recovery of seriously injured patients in the West of Scotland. 

“The network also builds in resilience for major incident management nationally which is critical in the modern era.  With the committed additional investment, Greater Glasgow and Clyde will provide world class trauma care our health service will be proud of.”