Network based systems

Inside the medical network that has reduced trauma deaths in London by 50% in 12 years

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NINTCHDBPICT000714096762Credit: The Garden

A FORMER Royal Marine is nearly paralyzed after a fall that nearly separated his neck from his spine.

The injury is believed to have occurred when Wesley fell from a chair.

From left to right: Chloe Baker, Dr. Jonathan Leung, William Harvey, Tiffany, Dr. Morgan McMonagle and Naomi Felthouse

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From left to right: Chloe Baker, Dr. Jonathan Leung, William Harvey, Tiffany, Dr. Morgan McMonagle and Naomi FelthouseCredit: Tom Barnes/Channel 4
Bartender Danilo, 28, from north west London, was brought in by air ambulance as a code red case after crashing his motorbike

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Bartender Danilo, 28, from north west London, was brought in by air ambulance as a code red case after crashing his motorbikeCredit: The Garden
Patients are often Lily was airlifted to hospital so they can receive expert treatment as quickly as possible

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Patients are often Lily was airlifted to hospital so they can receive expert treatment as quickly as possibleCredit: The Garden

The 78-year-old fell frequently and was taken to Ealing Hospital in west London after blood tests revealed dangerously high levels of calcium in his blood.

He underwent an operation to remove the thyroid gland from his neck which was causing the calcium to rise – but pre-operative scans also revealed damage to the spine.

He was then transferred to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, central London, where he was filmed for Channel 4’s new documentary series Emergency, which airs nightly on Channel 4 from today until 3 March.

Wesley, who has now recovered from the operation, recalls: “I was told that my spine was very weak and that’s why I had trouble standing up and keeping my balance.

“I was then told that I might need surgery, but at first they put a collar on to keep my neck still and prevent further spinal damage. I kept it for three months.

Wesley, from Northolt, west London, then suffered a seizure and was told that if he did not have an operation he could be paralyzed for life.

He says: “I was in the army and I went to places where I had bullets flying around. But nothing was scarier than learning that you could be paralyzed for life.

“I was always very active. I ran ten miles a day and was a boxer. I said yes to surgery. I had no choice.”

Accidents like Wesley’s are everyone’s worst nightmare, but trauma kills SIX MILLION people a year worldwide, including 16,000 in the UK. It’s the leading cause of death for people under the age of 44, and many of those who survive end up with life-altering disabilities.

The new documentary follows the work of the London Trauma System – a network of 39 hospitals plus ambulance and air ambulance services set up after the London Tube and bus bombings on July 7, 2005.

It aims to save lives by moving patients to large units where a range of specialists are available to help with multiple and complex injuries.

It treats more than 12,000 people a year and since its inception in 2010, trauma survival rates have increased by 50%.

Surgeon Dr Morgan McMonagle, Director of Trauma Training at the Royal College of Surgeons, is among those featured on the show.

He says of his NHS colleagues: “Every day has its surprises. When a crisis hits, whether it’s a stabbing or mass casualties, you can really see the well-oiled machine working at its best.

“This was highlighted in 2017 by the response to the Westminster Bridge and London Bridge bombings and the Grenfell fire tragedy.

“The British public should be very proud of the NHS. When you see us come together in a situation of major trauma, that’s when you see us at our best. I call it Trauma Justice League.

‘VERY PROUD’

The show also features London Air Ambulance Service Registrar Dr Chloe Baker; Dr Jonathan Leung, consultant at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent; Dr. Tasha Newton, consultant anesthetist and director of the trauma unit at the same hospital; Naomi Felthouse, senior physiotherapist at King’s College Hospital in central London; and Tiffany, a trauma nurse at St George’s Hospital in south London.

Dr Baker’s life was saved after she was hit by a truck while riding her bicycle in 2007, when she was a 21-year-old student. Now she helps save others.

She says of her roadside rescuers, “I only remember their orange anklets, high-vis stripes and black boots, but I still remember the calmness of their voices to this day.”

Dr Newton is also Deputy Clinical Director for South East London, Kent and Medway. She says, “I oversee the care of critically injured patients, making decisions about equipment, training and patient pathways needed. I’m never on vacation.

“I also treat in-person patients about once a week at William Harvey Hospital. The rest of the week, I’m a consultant anesthesiologist. One day a week I work as a recovery physician transferring critically ill patients from one hospital to another.

Dr. Leung is shown when 17-year-old patient Frazer arrives after a fall, and scans show a life-altering injury. Dr. Leung and his team are working to stabilize him before he can be transferred for more specialized care at King’s College Hospital.

Meanwhile, Wesley says that when he looks at pictures of himself, he has a hard time believing it’s him.

During a ten-hour operation, a metal plate was inserted at the base of his skull to reconnect his neck to his spine. When he woke up, his doctor asked him to raise his arms and legs – and he recalls: “Even though I was restricted, I could move. He said it was a good sign and I have never felt so relieved.

Wesley then entered rehabilitation. He says: “Progress was slow, but eventually I was able to walk up and down stairs and was released to stay with my sister.

“When I look at the images of myself, I am shocked. I look like a shadow of the man I used to be. But little by little, day by day, I am coming back to myself. The medical staff at the trauma team is in top form, without them I might not have walked.

‘AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME’

The documentary was filmed last year for two weeks in July. Viewers see a patient admitted with a chainsaw injury, a one-year-old child who was crushed under a television, a teenager who fell 30 feet from a cliff, and a man crushed by a 400 air conditioning unit kg.

But one of the most poignant stories is that of 12-year-old Lily, who is fighting for her life after she was hit by an 80km/h car, which catapulted her ten meters down the road .

She suffered a shattered pelvis and a broken hip, and had two post-impact seizures, which paramedics said caused severe brain damage.

Lily was airlifted to St George’s Hospital, where doctors placed her in an induced coma to reduce swelling in her brain.

Then, surgeons operated to repair his hip. It was a success – but if it had failed Lily might have struggled to walk as she would have had different leg lengths.

She returned home in a wheelchair after two weeks in hospital and has now recovered well.

The documentary also sees Wayland, 53, lit blue in St Mary’s Hospital after being stabbed outside a restaurant.

He suffered a 10cm wide wound in his abdomen and was bleeding profusely. Fortunately, Blade missed vital organs, and after emergency surgery, Wayland was stapled and sent home the next day.

This is the first time the inner workings of the London Trauma System have been shown on television. It is made up of four major trauma centers in the capital – St George’s Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital, King’s College Hospital and The Royal London Hospital – as well as 35 centers across Greater London and the Home Counties.

Bartender Danilo, 28, from north west London, is brought in by air ambulance as a code red case after he crashed his motorbike. Paramedics call a code red when they believe a patient has only minutes to live.

Danilo suffered multiple injuries, including a ruptured aorta – the main artery carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

He also had a broken pelvis, a broken wrist and a disgloved leg – where the top layers of skin and body tissue are stripped away from the muscles, ligaments and bones below, which in itself can be fatal.

About 90% of patients with a ruptured aorta die, but Danilo is rushed for surgery where doctors install a stent in an attempt to repair his aorta and stop the bleeding.

He spends three weeks in the trauma center before being transferred to a physiotherapy unit and finally reuniting with his girlfriend Giulia. As he recovers, he says, “Everyone from doctors to nurses and paramedics is a hero to me.”

  • You can see Emergency on Channel 4 tonight at 9pm and at the same time for the next three nights.
Former Royal Marine Wesley was nearly paralyzed after a fall that nearly separated his neck from his spine

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Former Royal Marine Wesley was nearly paralyzed after a fall that nearly separated his neck from his spineCredit: The Garden
A child patient is cared for by a nurse at the Royal London Hospital

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A child patient is cared for by a nurse at the Royal London HospitalCredit: The Garden


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