WIGAN Infirmary is to become a major trauma centre.
Together with Oldham and Stockport, the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary has been selected as one of three new major trauma centres announced by the Government for the North West.
Until now, patients who suffered major trauma were taken to the nearest hospital.
The new system will see ambulances take seriously injured patients directly to a specialist centre where they will be assessed immediately and treated by a specialist team.
Paramedics will be trained to make sure they take trauma patients to the most suitable hospital. It is hoped the shake-up could save 600 lives a year nationally.
Patients with badly broken bones will still go to Manchester Royal Infirmary.
Life-threatening head injuries will be treated at Salford Royal and major burn cases will go to Wythenshawe Hospital.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley was today announcing the network of 22 major trauma centres across England.
Mr Lansley said: “For far too long, people have needlessly died from major trauma injuries because some local hospitals are not equipped with the right facilitie,s or specialist teams to treat patients with life-threatening injuries fast.
“I have always said that patients should be at the heart of their care – services should be arranged around their needs, not how hospitals are organised.
“Seriously-injured patients need to be assessed and treated quickly . With 22 new trauma centres now opening across England, linked to hospitals and staffed with a full specialist trauma team, we hope to save help save up to 600 lives a year.”
A National Audit Office (NAO) report in 2010 estimated there are at least 20,000 cases of major trauma each year in England, resulting in 5,400 deaths.
Many other patients suffer permanent disabilities, requiring long-term care.
The study said England’s system led to a 20% higher in-hospital death rate for trauma patients compared to the US.
Experts said having a dedicated consultant present in an emergency department produces quicker and better decision-making for trauma patients.
Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) confirmed that the Trauma Unit will be based at Wigan Infirmary, but has yet to release any details about how it will work.