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Targets “are causing disabilities”

Delays to emergency treatment caused by pressure over targets are leaving seriously injured patients with avoidable disabilities, according to a medical body.

The British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) said a regional network of trauma services was needed to ensure cases of pelvic and hip socket fractures, most often road accident victims, were treated promptly.

The association claims targets demand that local patients are out of A&E within four hours and that planned elective surgery cases are not cancelled.

As a result, hospitals with specialist trauma teams have to turn away patients transferred from other hospitals with serious injuries or risk breaking their targets.

A spokesman for the BOA said: “This means trauma patients remain marooned in an inappropriate hospital and suffer poor care and long delays in receiving an operation.”

Figures show that with prompt surgery – within five to seven days – 80% of patients with the most complex fractures can recover with excellent results and avoid disability. But that figure falls to less than 50% after 10 days and almost no one after three weeks.

Yet NHS hospitals report an average of between 10 and 20 days delay, said the BOA.

The BOA and The Royal College of Surgeons have renewed calls for a regional trauma network, where patients with complex, multiple injuries can be treated quickly.

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British Orthopaedic Association