Independent review of Major Trauma Networks reveals increase in patient survival rates

NHS England today has welcomed the findings of an independent audit that shows 20 per cent more patients are now surviving severe trauma since the introduction of Major Trauma Networks in 2010.

Results from the Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) national audit show that 1 in 5 patients who would have died before the networks are now surviving severe injuries.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director for NHS England said:

“These figures show how getting the right patient to the right hospital at the right time can save lives and improve recovery from serious trauma.

“Trauma is the leading cause of death in children and adults under the age of 40, with patients often suffering complex, multiple injuries that need surgical and nursing care from multiple specialists.

The figures remind us that some patients are best treated in a specialist centre that isn’t always closest to their home.  Like stroke and cardiac services, we know that whilst patients may spend longer in an ambulance the expert care provided at Major Trauma Centres saves lives and improves outcomes for patients.”

Regional Trauma Networks were first introduced in 2012 to enable the rapid and safe transfer of patients to the 22 designated Major Trauma Centres throughout the country as few district hospitals in England have the capacity to provide comprehensive care for these patients.  The networks were developed by doctors, nurses and allied health professionals including paramedics and physiotherapists, to ensure that the patient receives the best possible care from the scene of the accident through to their rehabilitation at home.

Professor Chris Moran, National Clinical Director for Trauma for NHS England said:

“Our patients now receive much more rapid care from specialist trauma teams who can identify life-threatening injuries much quicker, access key tests such as CT scans faster and perform life-saving operations earlier.

“Patients with complex fractures and soft tissue injuries, which often cause permanent disability and require specialist surgery are also benefiting. Before, patients often waited 7-10 days before being transferred to specialist units, now over 90% of patients are transferred to the right hospital within two days.”

As well as improving survival, a key aim of the Major Trauma Networks is to improve the quality of life in the survivors.  The networks have redesigned rehabilitation pathways to give the patients the best chance of recovery following surgery. It is predicted that for every additional survivor, 3 further patients will make an enhanced recovery, which hopefully will allow them to return to their families and to work.

Maralyn Woodford, Director of TARN said:

“The data collected has helped hospitals to evaluate their trauma care  – the treatment of serious injuries such as head injuries, chest injuries  and broken limbs – and review how they rate in comparison with other  Trusts.

“Our data helps support doctors and managers review their trauma  care and make changes if required.”

The system started in London and then went live for the whole of England in April 2012.


For further information on this or the case studies below, please e-mail the NHS England media team or call 07768 901293.




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  1. Chris Croden says:

    The evidence shows this approach works for STeMI, Stroke. and Major Trauma. However Ambulance staff are at the sharp end in the initial triage process and yet sadly (due usually to NHS patient confidentiality issues) from a Paramedic perspective, it can be difficult to follow up on patient outcomes from the specialist treatment centre.

    Without good, timely clinical feedback educational opportunities for improving pre-hospital patient care will continue to be missed if this vital part of the feedback loop remains unresolved.

  2. Barry Davies says:

    Given the Golden hour, surely it would be better to have more centres with the capability rather than a set number of “specialist” centres, after all the patient needs to be triaged as being in need of a “specialist” bed in the first place. If the beds are used without the correct triage they will either become blocked, or people will end up in a hospital far from home for no good reason.

    In London there are several large hospitals close to each other, the rest of the country the logistics of movement between the hospitals is not so easy, and the patient may not be in a condition where life is sustainable during the transfer.

    Reasonable idea but as usual designed for london not the world outside of it.