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Inside our Major Trauma Centre with Dr Rachel Tricks

dr rachel outside hospital in blue scrubs
01 July 2022

At Sheffield Children’s, we are proud to be a Major Trauma Centre, providing emergency care to children from across the region who have suffered critical injury. Our Major Trauma Lead, Rachel Tricks explains why this service is so vital:

Meet Rachel

I was delighted to return to Sheffield Children’s in a new role as the Major Trauma Lead in March this year. Having studied at the University of Sheffield, I began my paediatric career at this hospital, spending the first six years of my training here and in South Yorkshire.

One of my earliest memories is of watching the BBC series ‘Children’s Hospital’ with my mum and dad when I was around seven or eight. It used to feature Sheffield Children’s regularly, so to be working here now is very special.

My role involves overseeing our major trauma care, which is the treatment provided to children with severe and life-threatening injuries. We see around 120 major trauma patients every year who have suffered from instances including road traffic incidents, falls and burns.

About our Major Trauma Centre

Sheffield Children’s Hospital is one of only five dedicated Paediatric Major Trauma Centres (MTC) in England. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Attending a dedicated Paediatric Major Trauma Centre after a serious incident has been shown to improve the survival chances of critically ill patients. Recent research has shown that the rate of mortality in adolescents for trauma injuries falls from 4.4% in a Mixed Adult and Paediatric MTC to 2.5% at a dedicated Paediatric Major Trauma Centre.

Studies have also concluded that wherever possible, major trauma patients under 16 years should attend a dedicated paediatric MTC first for the best possible outcome.

The Major Trauma team at Sheffield Children’s brings together a large number of specialist staff including Emergency Department consultants, surgical teams, anaesthetists and Intensive Care Unit senior doctors, with support from operating department practitioners, nurses, radiographers, laboratory staff and porters.

We work to stabilise the patient, carry out any necessary tests including X-rays, CT scans and blood tests, and when it is safe to do so, transfer the child to either theatre for surgery or to one of the wards at Sheffield Children’s for ongoing care. Here the patients are supported by an expert team of physios, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and other rehabilitation specialists, helping them get well and return home.

Like everyone across Sheffield Children’s, we take great pride in providing the right care at the right time. It’s a complex role which requires a lot of teamwork and but it’s really rewarding.

My role in major trauma also extends beyond the initial emergency admission to reviewing every stage of their journey at Sheffield Children’s to make sure it is the best it can possibly be, right up until the point they are ready to go home again.

The Children’s Hospital Charity  – improving our spaces

The Children’s Hospital Charity are currently fundraising to build a new helipad at Sheffield Children’s, which will make a huge difference. It will allow us to become far more accessible as a regional centre. Air ambulances will be able to land directly onto the hospital, meaning patients will have quicker and easier access to the urgent care they need.

The project will be a huge benefit to the wider region, with the potential for us to treat more patients from across North Lincolnshire and North Derbyshire too. It will provide a safe, dedicated landing space for the Air Ambulance, enabling us to provide better, faster care and improve privacy and dignity for patients and their families at a very difficult time, as we would no longer need to stretcher patients across the busy A57.

The new helipad means we can get critically ill or injured patients to the right place, with the right team and provide vital early care and management. The air ambulance teams and pilots are heavily involved with the planning for the new helipad too- we’re working hard with them to ensure they get the most appropriate space possible.

We’re hopeful that with the support of the public, fundraising for the helipad can be completed this year and building work begin in 2023. It will make a huge difference.

As well as my role as the Major Trauma lead, I am also an Emergency Medicine Consultant in the Emergency Department, seeing and treating patients, as well as supporting the junior doctors to deliver the best possible care.

We are exceptionally busy, with our department regularly seeing over 200 patients a day with record-breaking highs of 270. Despite the challenges, I’m proud of our work every day in delivering the best possible care for children and families that come through our doors.

Having a department dedicated to paediatrics improves the quality of care. Paediatric experience at consultant level means we can provide the best possible care at the earliest point. The Children’s Hospital Charity are also fundraising to redevelop the Emergency Department, with plans for more space and additional treatment areas.

This would not only mean a more pleasant experience for those waiting, with less overcrowding and patients potentially seen faster, but a better quality of service too. For example, we could have more dedicated spaces for young children, adolescents and those with additional needs or mental health rooms for patients in need of a quiet, calm and safe environment.

Having those dedicated spaces will make our roles easier. If you attend to a child in a difficult, noisy environment, they can often be distressed which makes diagnosing and treating them more challenging. Removing those stresses would allow us to engage them better, treat them more quickly and ultimately discharge patients home sooner.

It’s a great pleasure to be back at Sheffield Children’s and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for our team as well as the patients and families in our care.

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