CAR crash victims or people with stab wounds in Northampton will be given access to the best medical care in the region quicker than ever before under plans unveiled by the NHS.
It was announced yesterday that Northampton General Hospital will become a ‘trauma unit’ where patients are stabilised before being sent to The Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, which is to become the major trauma centre in the region.
It is hoped that an extra 60 lives in the East Midlands will be saved every year through a quicker transfer of patients with serious multiple injuries to a specialist team of doctors and surgeons in Nottingham.
Moya McVicar, of the Northamptonshire LINk watchdog, said she believed the scheme could cause a problem for visiting relatives but that the plans would improve overall treatment for patients. She said: “Sometimes your closest hospital might not be the best place to treat you.
“The idea is there will be a specialist unit in Nottingham full of experts in treating the most serious types of injuries, whereas your local hospital may not have the expert to do the surgery required.
“For the patients it will be a better outcome.
“The difficulty with it will be for the relatives of the patients who won’t be happy at having to travel to Nottingham from Northampton.”
Mrs McVicar said the idea was for the patient to be transferred back to their local hospital once their condition has been stabilised.
To help the service work more efficiently, the East Midlands Ambulance Service is currently training its crews to better identify major trauma patients and take them straight to the regional centre or the nearest trauma unit, rather than the local emergency department.
David Farrelly, deputy chief executive for East Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “This is very positive news for patients across the East Midlands area and will ensure that patients with serious major trauma are able to access care and treatment in the most appropriate place giving better outcomes.”
Adam Brooks, consultant surgeon and clinical lead for trauma at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH), said: “NUH’s trauma centre will become the focus for improving the way many major trauma patients are treated.
“We treat around 300 major trauma patients a year and by 2015 expect this number to grow threefold to 900 when we reach full capacity as a regional trauma centre.”
The changes are to be introduced from April.