Birmingham conference focusses on the trauma patient experience

A conference dedicated to exploring the experiences of trauma patients and carers was held in Birmingham on 24 Sept 2015. The day was organised by Professor Chris Moran, National Clinical Director for Trauma, and attended by a selection of clinicians and former patients the UK’s major trauma centres (MTC).

The conference opened with a presentation by Shan Martin who suffered multiple, life threatening injuries from being hit by a car in January 2014. Shan gave a vivid account of the impact it had on her psychological wellbeing and her family, and outlined the biggest challenges she faced during recovery. She emphasised how much she would have liked to have connected with other trauma survivors soon after her injury to help her feel less alone and share recovery advice.

Trauma survivor Shan talked about the biggest challenges she faced when she left hospital and how she dealt with them

Topics from clinicians were wide-ranging.  For example, Jacqueline Claydon and Steve Aldridge from Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Trust shared their findings from in-depth interviews with orthopaedic trauma patients post- discharge.  Paul Jebb (Experience of Care Professional Lead, NHS England) discussed why understanding the patient’s experience is critical to improving quality of care.  Laura Tompsett (South Hampton General Hospital) discussed her research into the trauma care experiences of elderly falls patients, where for a number of reasons some injuries can go undiagnosed on admission.

AfterTrauma founder Karen Hoffman talked about the rationale for setting up the AfterTrauma website and forum, and outlined future plans to provide more help for patients on-line; specifically, interactive supported self-management tools to help patients set and achieve recovery goals.  She shared the platform with speakers from a new trauma Charity called Day One which has been set up to provide peer support and other information to trauma patients in the Leeds General Infirmary.  Day One hope to eventually roll out these and other services nationally.

Trauma rehabilitation specialist Karen Hoffman talked about why she set up the AfterTrauma site and how it is continuing to evolve

Common themes about the patient experience that emerged from the conference were:

  • Feelings of shock, anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, are common reactions to major trauma. Patients often need to be reassured that what they are going through is normal, and some may need psychological support services;
  • While patients and families want to be informed about operations and prognosis, potentially distressing information needs to be conveyed with sensitivity and at the times that are right for the patient;
  • All patients that spoke at the conference experienced very long recovery periods and struggled with the lack of co-ordinated care and specialist rehabilitation in the community to help them recover;
  • Non-medical issues can weight very heavily on patients’ minds after their serious injury, in particular how to support themselves and their families when they can’t work. Some trauma units now provide patients with advice about what benefits are available (eg at the Leeds General Infirmary Trauma Centre, staff from the Citizens Advice service visit trauma patients in the wards). Other units provide patients with access to free legal advice about the circumstances of their injury (eg South Hampton General Hospital  Trauma Centre).

At the close of the day, all conference attendees acknowledged the importance of the issues discussed and expressed support for this inaugural conference to be repeated on an annual or biannual basis.


I got a lot out of this conference too, particularly the thought provoking paper about impact on parents of paediatric trauma. Looking forward to the next one!

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