Plastic fantastic! New trauma clinic saves time, travel, and unnecessary admissions to hospital

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One year on from its introduction, hospital workers in Hull are celebrating the achievements of a special clinic set up to treat patients with minor trauma injuries.

Since its launch back in December 2012, the Plastics Trauma Clinic at Hull Royal Infirmary has prevented more than 1,200 patients being admitted to hospital by being able to treat, and in some cases, operate on patients within the hour, as Elaine Pardoe, Plastic Surgery Trauma Organiser explains:

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“The Plastics Trauma Clinic was set up as a kind of ‘one stop shop’ for people with injuries which need treating quickly but which aren’t necessarily serious enough to require the patient being admitted to hospital.

“Most patients with injuries of the kind we see, such as dog bites, deep cuts, DIY and gardening injuries, don’t want to be admitted to hospital either, so being able to treat them within our clinic within the hour, or have the option to operate under local anaesthetic in our dedicated theatre next door, proves convenient for them and keeps our hospital beds free for more seriously ill patients.”

The Plastics Trauma Team provides a range of services including cleaning and suturing (stitching) of wounds, removal of abscesses, repairs to injured finger and toe nail beds, and manipulation of dislocations under local anaesthetic. The clinic is also able to arrange for patients with more serious injuries to be operated upon in one of the main hospital theatres if necessary, but will continue to care for these patients after their operations and make discharge arrangements on their behalf.

In its first year, the clinic saw some 3,620 people; a combination of referrals from GP surgeries and minor injury units, and of patients walking in to HRI’s Emergency Department for treatment. Around one in five patients (746 people) were operated on in the clinic’s own theatre, and a further 472 were redirected straight to the main theatres, saving some 1,218 patients being admitted to hospital.

James Haeney, Consultant Plastic Surgeon for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust explains:

“Being able to provide patients with the treatment they need, quickly and appropriately, is at the heart of our clinic’s work.

“In the past, people with this type of injury were transferred to the Plastic Surgery unit at Castle Hill Hospital for treatment. What we’ve been able to offer for the past year is a more seamless service on site, with patients either being treated within the clinic on the same day, or being given a booked next day appointment for the treatment of their injury. Working in this way not only saves our patients’ time but also saves us the associated costs of admitting people to hospital.

“This service works not only for local patients but also for those referred from Emergency Departments and minor injury units from as far afield as Scarborough, York, Scunthorpe and Grimsby.”

And patients agree. Earlier this month, 23-year-old Michael Evans was referred to the clinic from York after badly cutting his hand on a glass beaker. He says:

“After I cut my hand on Monday, I was referred from York through to the Plastics Trauma Clinic in Hull. The cut was really quite deep, so the team was able to bandage my hand and make arrangements for me to come back the next day for an operation and find out exactly what the damage has been.

“The staff have been lovely, and have been keeping me informed about what is happening every step of the way.”

Lorry driver Ian Penn, from Hull, also found himself at Hull Royal Infirmary on Monday evening after his wedding ring snagged on his vehicle as he was climbing down from it. He says:

“I came into A&E initially as I’d torn a lot of the skin from my hand, down to the knuckle. I was referred from there to the Plastics Trauma Team who treated the immediate problem, and then quickly arranged for me to have an operation and a skin graft to repair the damage.

“It’s a really good service and the team has been great. Communication has been good and I’ve been given a number to call for any advice about wound healing or infection if I need it, so I feel well looked after.”

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