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Plans to Develop Trauma Centres in Scotland

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08 Apr 2014

The Scottish Government announced last week plans for four new trauma centres to be set-up across Scotland's hospitals to help provide urgent emergency care for patients. People with serious injuries, such as those who have been in a serious car accident, or who experience severe head injuries, will be initially cared for at these centres. By speeding up access to specialist care and treatment, the changes could save up to 40 lives each year.

The four bases, which will be operational from 2016, will be located at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, and the new Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

The topic of 'Emergency Surgery in the 21st Century' was recently discussed at The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh's annual meeting, in March 2014, which saw surgeons from around the globe gather in Edinburgh to discuss the issue. This followed a report issued by a working group from RCSEd in May 2012, which examined the current provision of care for victims of major trauma in Scotland and recommended the development of a trauma system across Scotland. 

While the College is pleased to hear progress is now being made to develop trauma centres in Scotland, RCSEd President, Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Ian Ritchie has expressed some concerns:

"As President of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and one of the contributors to the College’s Report on Trauma Services, I am delighted to hear that Scotland is going to rationalise its major trauma provision. There is no doubt that this will improve the care for patients who suffer from major trauma.  By virtue of centralising major trauma care, there will be additional benefits to patients who suffer from less major trauma, because they are also likely to have a smoother process of care as a result of this re-organisation.

"The original report recommended that, for a population of five million, there should be one or possibly two major trauma centres in Scotland. I appreciate that there are political sensitivities and that the major imperative is to start the movement of major trauma into centres, where we can ensure that all the specialties required for the treatment of these patients with major traumatic injuries are available easily. It is essential that data is collected on the outcomes of these patients to confirm that the expected improvements are being achieved.

"I am also concerned that there does not appear to be any consideration about the rehabilitation required for these patients. An integral part of the trauma report was a call to ensure that as much attention is paid to rehabilitation as it is to the management of the acute injuries. Our view is that this is just as much a part of the care of major injuries and should not be neglected."

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