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The Major Trauma Group Chair Reflects on Health Outcome Inequalities for Major Trauma Victims

The NHS does an incredible job and major trauma services are saving lives every day, however Trevor Sterling, Chair of the Major Trauma Group, draws much needed attention to those receiving a lower standard of care than others.

Trevor Sterling, Chair of the Major Trauma Group, has published a piece with the Hospital Times last week, looking into how the healthcare crisis disproportionately impacts major trauma patients based on their gender, geographic location and ethnicity.

Within this article Trevor comments that in addition to the already daunting figures of the NHS elective care backlog, there are several other concerning trends that highlight the NHS’ inability to tackle inequality in health service provision.

Trever notes that while waiting times for specialist surgery and treatment, necessary for almost all major trauma patients, have increased across all specialities, gynaecology treatments have seen the largest increase in waiting time, at 34 per cent. This points to a gender bias, which is also confirmed by the finding that women tend to suffer from worse health outcomes following major trauma, having less functional capabilities and scoring worse on quality of well-being and depression indicators.

The introduction of Major Trauma Centres (MTCs) in 2012 has improved survival for major trauma victims, as patients are diverted to MTCs instead of being rushed to the nearest A&E departments, which are often very busy and lack the specialist consultants and surgeons needed for major trauma injuries. However, regional variations in response times means that there is a postcode lottery when it comes to the time in which victims reach a MTC, with The South Western Ambulance Service recording the longest average response time in the whole country.

Moreover, there are also growing concerns surrounding disparities in patient experience within the NHS, with some patients routinely discriminated against. For example, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia found that sickle cell patients, most of whom are black, were routinely not listened to, had their pain dismissed and were incorrectly diagnosed with other issues, which can, and has, had fatal consequences. Racist attitudes towards ethnic minority patients are also revealed by the Progressive Policy Think Tank, which found that the charging regime used by the NHS ‘incentives racial profiling’ by encouraging staff to guess which patients need to pay for their care based on their physical characteristics and name.

While the NHS does an incredible job and major trauma services are saving lives every day, it is clear that those in certain regions, women and ethnic minorities experience worse health outcome inequalities, receiving a lower standard of care than others. As the healthcare sector begins to recover from Covid-19, it must direct funding, policy and training in the NHS towards programs that will benefit these suffering demographics. If we truly want to “level-up”, all parties involved in the delivery of major trauma care and rehabilitation must target the existing health inequalities between these groups so that they are not further exacerbated.

If you are interested in reading more of Trevor Sterling’s thoughts on the unconscious bias in major trauma recovery you can find the full article on the Hospital Times website here: https://www.hospitaltimes.co.uk/how-the-healthcare-crisis-impacts-health-outcome-inequalities-for-major-trauma-victims/

The Major Trauma Group is a UK-wide network of experienced major trauma specialist solicitors who believe in the importance of rehabilitation.

You can contact the Major Trauma Group on 0330 311 2578 or email us at hello@majortraumagroup.co.uk.

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