Staffordshire Local Involvement Network (LINk) has canvassed patient opinion over plans to open three regional trauma centres next month (MAR) at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire and the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham.
The Department of Health has ordered the changes to trauma care with a view to improving patients' chances of survival after car crashes, riding accidents, stabbings and other major incidents.
Under the new system, patients with immediately life-threatening injuries would effectively by-pass the nearest A&E and be taken to one of the regional centres.
The new structure aims to give quicker access to specialist skills and equipment under one roof, including neurosurgeons and CT scanners for patients with severe head injuries – and rehabilitation services to help patients recover more quickly and reduce the risk of disability.
NHS managers in Staffordshire believe the new way of working would increase patients’ chances of survival or a better recovery by 15 to20 per cent.
Staffordshire LINk, which was set up to investigate the views of patients and social care users across the county and to make recommendations aimed at improving services, questioned patients at a series of events across the county.
The majority of people attending the meetings supported the plans, accepting they would result in more specialist care and better recovery rates.
Jackie Owen, manager of Staffordshire LINk, said: “In the main, residents were strongly supportive. They told us they accepted one of the prices to pay for more effective trauma care was the need for some patients to be treated at hospitals further from home than may usually be the case.
“But they want health managers to come up with ways to help visiting families with parking, transport and accommodation costs, and they also want to make sure there is enough emotional support for patients and their loved ones.”
Other respondents voiced worries that the new system could drain resources from other departments in the three hospitals.
An additional concern was that the new units could make it more difficult for Stafford hospital to recruit A&E doctors.
Stafford’s A&E department has been shut between 10pm and 8am since December 1 after hospital managers struggled to attract enough medical staff to cover the shift.
Ms Owen added: “We have already passed on the findings of the events to the NHS Specialised Commissioning Team, so service users in Staffordshire are helping to make a real difference.
“We want to hear about the experience of residents no matter which part of the health or social care services they use – the more feedback we get, the more we can help service users bring about the changes they want to see.”
To have your say, visit www.staffordshirelink.org.uk or call 01785 887990.
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Notes to Editors
Staffordshire LINk actively pursues health and social care service user feedback.
The information is used to help shape service delivery – making the LINk a vital catalyst for positive change in Staffordshire.
Staffordshire LINk is funded through, but is independent of, Staffordshire County Council.
It covers services provided across the county council area. Stoke-on-Trent is covered by a separate LINk.
Staffordshire LINk is based at Staffordshire Technology Park in Stafford and it is run by volunteers and employees who are specially-trained or who have experience in health and social care provision.
Experts from Staffordshire LINk are available to comment on health and social care issues affecting Staffordshire residents.