Major Trauma

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About this service

Royal Cornwall Hospitals (RCHT) is part of the Peninsula Trauma Network (PTN).

The PTN is responsible for overseeing the care of all major trauma patients across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Depending on incident location and patient condition, clinicians on scene will decide on the most appropriate hospital to take the patient to. Travel times within our region can be very long. Trauma patients may be taken directly to one of the Major Trauma Centres (MTCs) or to one of the four trauma units.

The trauma units such as RCHT provide vital resuscitation and stabilisation of injured patients. Following initial stabilisation, patients may either remain here at RCHT for ongoing care and rehabilitation or be transferred to the MTC if specialist services and input is required.

Our Trauma and Transfer Consultants

Within RCHT we have a group of Trauma and Transfer Consultants (TTC), a role created in 2019. This is a group of consultants from Emergency Medicine, Anaesthesia and General Practice, whose overarching role is to coordinate the journey of a major trauma patient from the prehospital setting to the patient’s eventual discharge home or to a rehabilitation unit. An additional role of the TTC is to support our Critical Care Unit with time critical non-trauma transfers out of hours.

During the weekdays, a TTC is committed to conducting a morning ward round of all the patients in the hospital who meet Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) inclusion criteria. Their role on the ward round is to perform tertiary surveys, support the ward teams caring for the patients and facilitate progression of patients’ investigations, treatment, rehabilitation and discharge.


Our Trauma and Transfer Consultants, TTCs are all experienced in the care of patients during emergency transfer and work closely with other organisations to ensure our patients receive the most efficient and appropriate transfer for them. Air transfers are either flown by Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust (CAAT) helicopter or the Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter. While road transfers are facilitated by:

  • Retrieve: Adult Southwest transfer service based in Launceston
  • WATCh: Paediatric critical care transfer service based in Bristol

Trauma Car

RCHT is the first hospital in England and Wales to have a rapid response vehicle. It is a fully equipped critical care vehicle with blue lights which enables a major trauma consultant with advanced resuscitation drugs and equipment to be at the scene of the accident. Here they are able to support colleagues from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) and Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust (CAAT) to deliver the very highest standards of trauma care.

Major Trauma response car with Dr Matt Beardmore

The RCHT Trauma Car became operational in August 2022 and was made possible through £50,000 funding from the Helicopter Emergency Landing Pads (HELP) Appeal, the only charity in the country that funds NHS hospital helipads; and £60,000 from the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Charity, which provides resources for the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust that go beyond what the NHS alone can provide.

Contact information

This is a specialised service. As such, relevant contact details will be provided to you upon referral/admission to this service.

Local Trauma on Twitter

Where to find us

Two Major Trauma Centres (MTCs) with specialist cardiothoracic and neurosurgical services

Adult Major Trauma Centre

Derriford Hospital, Plymouth

Paediatric Major Trauma Centre

Royal Hospital for Children, Bristol

Four Trauma Units (TU)

  • Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro
  • Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter
  • Torbay Hospital, Torbay
  • North Devon District Hospital, Barnstaple
  • South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT)

Trauma and Audit Research Network

The Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) is the National Clinical Audit for traumatic injury and is the largest European Trauma Registry, holding data on >800,000 injured patients including >50,000 injured children.

It began collecting data in 1990 and is now over 30 years old. Around 220 hospitals in the UK submit trauma care data to TARN.

TARN produce reports and dashboards based on the data we submit and help trauma hospitals, such as RCHT to continually review and improve our trauma care.

TARN has section 251 approval from the Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG), an independent body of experts and lay people, to support the lawful processing of patient data from England or Wales without consent (22/CAG/0014).

Data sharing Agreements have been established between each Trust or Health Board to allow data to be entered onto the TARN database, processed and shared across the network. All TARN Staff complete regular mandatory data protection and confidentiality training

Patients can opt out of having their data shared with TARN as part of the National data opt-out.

Patients can also request access, correction, or deletion of the personal data TARN holds.

More Information: Support for Patients/Families

Major Trauma

  • After Trauma is a website for survivors of traumatic injuries and their families containing information and resources to support them on their recovery journey.
  • Trauma Care employs experienced therapists trained to work with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the after-effects of trauma in line with current evidence-based practices.

Support after brain injury

  • Headway is a UK-wide charity which works to improve life after brain injury. They provide information and services such as a freephone helpline (0808 800 2244), website with information for patients and their families, a host of publications and booklets, an emergency fund, and brain injury identify cards for patients.
  • The SilverLining Charity is a group of like-minded people who aim to improve the quality of life of all those affected by brain injury. Our work engages brain injured people with the wider community in such a way which invigorates, motivates and rehabilitates to discover a sense of purpose, social structure and added meaning to their lives.
  • Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) is the charity leading brain injury rehabilitation across the UK and offers a range of specialist residential, hospital, and community based services for individuals with acquired brain injury, delivering high quality rehabilitation and support for people with complex needs across the UK.

Support after Spinal Cord Injury

  • The Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) supports patients with spinal cord injury and their families.
  • The Back Up Trust provides support and community activities for patients with spinal cord injury.
  • Aspire offers practical support for those living with spinal cord injury.

Support after Facial Injury

Saving Faces is a charity with resources to help those dealing with facial injury following trauma.

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