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Monday 24th October 2016

Fighting closures costs lives

13th December 2006

17032006_corridor.jpgWell-intentioned campaigns to save local A&E services could cost more than a thousand lives a year if they succeed, according to new research.

Specialist units providing universal access to the latest treatments and techniques for heart attacks could save around 500 lives compared to if patients are sent to smaller district hospitals.

And there could also be around 1,000 less repeat heart attacks and 250 fewer strokes, says research from the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr).

The majority of the annual 61,000 emergency heart attack patients are taken to their local hospital. But less than three per cent received the latest treatment in a specialist hospital unit.

By their nature, complex life-saving treatments can only be provided at a smaller number of specialist hospitals and it’s not all about money - patients need to be concentrated to a few centres to allow staff to maintain their specialist skills.

Despite travelling further to get to one of these specialist centres, research suggests it is still safer than being treated more locally where there is less expertise.

The ippr found patients who have suffered severe injury are also more likely to survive if treated in specialist centres compared to local hospitals. Around 10,000 people suffer multiple injuries in the UK each year and it is a major cause of death and disability.

The Royal College of Surgeons and British Orthopaedic Association have estimated universal access to specialist trauma centres could save around 770 extra lives each year.

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