PATIENTS from the borough who suffer life-threatening injuries may now be treated in a new major trauma centre in Southampton.

Ambulance crews have now been given the go-ahead to decide whether certain patients in north Hampshire with potentially fatal injuries should be taken straight to the major trauma centre in Southampton.

The centre is designed to treat the small number of people who have suffered extremely serious injuries in incidents such as road accidents and severe assaults.

Dr James Mapstone, clinical director of acute care for NHS South of England, told The Gazette that very few patients would be affected.

But being taken to Southampton and receiving expert care there, would drastically increase their chances of survival and decrease the risk of serious disability, He said: “The new system will see certain patients with life-threatening injuries, who are within 45 minutes of Southampton, being taken straight to the centre.

“If the patients are more than 45 minutes away, they will be assessed at Basingstoke and, if consultants there decide they would be best treated in Southampton, they will be able to get them transferred straight away, without staff having to jump through all the hoops they used to.”

At the Southampton centre, he said patients would have access to specialist equipment around the clock and it would not matter what time or day a patient was admitted.

Basingstoke hospital in Aldermaston Road, which still has its own trauma unit, will be supporting the Oxford and Southampton centres and will continue to treat the majority of injuries such as more minor head injuries and serious broken bones.

It will stabilise some patients prior to their transfer to the Southampton site.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Mary Edwards said: “In certain cases, if a patient needs very specialist treatment such as neurosurgery or thoracic (chest) surgery, they will be transferred to Southampton.”

Specialists from Basingstoke hospital would not be going to the Southampton centre, she said, as they were focusing on making Basingstoke hospital the best it could be.

Southampton hospital is one of five across the south region that are opening major trauma centres, as reported previously in The Gazette.

Centres have also opened in Plymouth, North Bristol, Oxford and Brighton.

In the south, around 4,000 people suffer a major trauma every year, with the majority of these injuries being caused by road accidents.