Patients to access hospital major trauma network
Critically ill patients could face longer journeys to hospital but have a better chance of survival with plans to develop a major trauma centre network.
Southampton General Hospital and Oxford's John Radcliffe will become two of 17 specialist centres in England taking on extra emergency cases.
Patients with the most life-threatening injuries will go straight to them and by-pass closer hospitals.
The plans are part of a Department of Health drive to improve emergency care.
Patients who are seriously injured within a 45-minute radius of the hospitals would be expected to be taken direct to the major trauma centre unless they had an immediately life-threatening injury that would preclude a longer transfer.
Those outside, such as patients in the Isle of Wight and Dorchester in Dorset, would expect to be rapidly stabilised at their local hospital and then transferred.
The launch of the Wessex major trauma network has taken place in Basingstoke.
Dr Andy Eynon, director of major trauma at Southampton General Hospital, said: "We lag behind other places like America and Australia in care of those patients and what we are trying to do is over the next couple of years to rally ramp up the quality of care we are providing for patients there."
It will also see a new operating theatre and extra ward dedicated to trauma in Southampton, as well as more intensive care beds and more staff at a cost of about £3m.
Although there are 183 emergency departments in England, only 17 hospitals can provide all services under one roof.