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Integrated trauma service – UK’s first dedicated trauma ward

Harrison Ward at The Royal London Hospital became the UK’s first poly-trauma ward service in July 2005. The 15-bed ward, which aims to set a new national benchmark of care, caters for trauma patients whose injuries are affecting two or more of their vital functions, but who do not require more intensive care.

Trauma patients are unique as, by definition, they are likely to have multiple injuries and will have a relevant specialist looking after each of their injuries. In addition to their various specialists, they will now have a team – led by the Trust’s trauma lead clinician, Consultant Surgeon Mike Walsh – overseeing all of their injuries and co-ordinating their care.

This co-ordinated approach has many benefits, both for patients and staff. The patient has continuity and a recognised point of contact with an overview of all of their injuries and care. Centralising poly-trauma patients in one ward will also improve the coordination of theatre sessions and diagnostic imaging, and the patient’s length of stay is likely to be shorter as a result. The ward also provides training and teaching benefits, and could potentially improve staff retention rates.

From the clinician’s point of view, the multidisciplinary ward round will be on one ward now rather than numerous wards around the hospital. There will also be improved co-ordination for audit and evaluation for research purposes.

The dedicated trauma service on Harrison Ward was developed as a result of an internal audit, which recommended the co-location of poly-trauma patients to provide them with more co-ordinated care and reduce their length of stay. The audit also resulted in the appointment of a dedicated Trust trauma lead and a trauma nurse co-ordinator, who casemanages seriously injured patients, liaises with clinical teams, educates ward nurses and assists with data collection, as well as developing care pathways with individual specialties and therapies.