On 8 April, the Kent and Medway element of the South East London Kent and Medway Major Trauma Network will go live.
The purpose of the network is to give people with complex multiple injuries, where there is a strong possibility of death or disability, a better chance of surviving and of recovering without disability.
The South East London Kent and Medway (SELKaM) trauma network will consist of a specialist major trauma centre at King’s College Hospital in London, supported by trauma units. This will include a 24/7 trauma unit at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury.
At the major trauma centre at King’s, patients will have access to state of the art equipment, specialist treatment and the expertise of orthopaedic, neurosurgery and radiology teams 24/7.
The local trauma units will stabilise some patients prior to rapid transfer to the major trauma centre, and will treat those trauma patients who do not need to transfer. The staff treating them will liaise directly with King’s trauma consultants if they need to.
There will also be added support from Kent Air Ambulance, including night flights, to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Thanet. These are expected to start in May, subject to Civil Aviation Authority approval.
A&Es in Kent and Medway see more than 490,000 patients a year and the vast majority of patients – including those with injuries such as a broken hip - will continue to be treated at their nearest A&E, as now.
Around 700 people suffer major trauma injuries, such as serious head injuries, stabbing or gunshot wounds, pelvic fractures, or amputations, in Kent and Medway every year. The majority are caused by road traffic collisions.
The National Audit Office estimates that between 450 and 600 lives a year will be saved a year in England through implementation of major trauma networks nationwide.