May 23 2013 Latest news:
By Chris Bishop
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Dr Alistair Steel, lead consultant for major Trauma at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, is so concerned at the number of road crashes being dealt with by his team, he has taken the rare step of talking about the impact of them.
It comes after a week of tragedy on our roads in which seven people died in four separate crashes last week at Horstead, Sandringham, Hevingham, Little Fransham and Thorney.
While the circumstances surrounding these crashes are still being investigated, Dr Steel feels that generally drivers could do more to stop them from being prevented.
He said A&E staff who treat casualties were often deeply affected by the tragedies they see – particularly those affecting young drivers or passengers.
“Our Emergency Department sees the outcome of these incidents,” he said. “The patients are very often young people at the start of their adult lives, on top of the world and with everything before them.
“The next moment they are brought in very badly injured or, in some cases they have been killed. “Despite our very best efforts to do anything they just can’t be saved. If there’s anything at all we can do to stop these injuries happening we must do whatever it takes.”
Around 300 people are seriously injured on Norfolk’s roads each year. Last year 34 of them died as a result of their injuries.
In 2012, the QEH treated 131 patients with serious trauma. Around a third of these were as a result of road accidents, with injuries ranging from broken limbs to serious internal or brain injuries.
“The commonest cause of death in the under 40’s in the UK is trauma related to traffic accidents,” said Dr Steel. “You only have to drive a few miles in any direction from King’s Lynn and you will see roadside flowers where someone has lost their life.
“You can’t go home from a day here, having tried to resuscitate someone who’s been injured, and not think about them and the effect their injury or death can have on their family. We are all human.
“But it just brings home that a moment’s inattention while driving can change so many lives. With the best driving skills in the world you can end up being involved in an accident. Anything we can do to raise awareness and to help reduce accidents has got to be good.”
The QEH is part of the East of England Trauma Network, working in partnership with other acute and specialist hospitals, plus the ambulance service, across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. The Regional Trauma Centre is at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, to where trauma patients with, for example, serious brain injuries, are transferred by ambulance or helicopter.
Dr Steel said: “When any of our Emergency Department team treat patients they do it very professionally and very efficiently. But it’s always difficult emotionally when you have to deal, for example, with children who have been injured as a result of not being properly secured in a car or because of needless overtaking.”
With the busy Easter weekend approaching Dr Steel and his team are giving their full support to Norfolk County Council’s casualty reduction team in its efforts to urge drivers to cut their speed and drive more safely.
“Anything we can do to reduce the number of accidents has got to be a move in the right direction,” said Dr Steel.
Thousands of extra vehicles are expected to take to the county’s roads, as the four day holiday weekend, beginning on Good Friday, March 29, heralds the start of the tourist season.
Iain Temperton, Norfolk’s team manager for casualty reduction, said drivers should slow down if driving along unfamiliar stretches of roads over the holiday.
“Not every car you see may be local,” he added. “You may know where you’re going, but they may not.”
Police in Norwich have launched an investigation after a woman claimed in a tweet she had knocked a cyclist off their bike.
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