New policy for major trauma patients

Noreen Hegarty |

Transporting patients with severe injuries directly to the most appropriate hospital whenever it is feasible and safe to do so is the objective behind a Major Trauma policy launched today by St John, Wellington Free Ambulance and the National Major Trauma Clinical Network.

The organisations have worked together and consulted key staff to develop the policy in recognition of the fact that transporting patients with major injuries directly to the most appropriate hospital, which is not necessarily the closest hospital, will save lives.

St John Medical Director Dr Tony Smith says ambulance personnel have been familiarising themselves with the Major Trauma Policy for the past several weeks and today’s public announcement marks the culmination of a considerable amount of work aimed at further optimising patient outcomes.

“We’re constantly reviewing processes and procedures that affect outcomes for all our patients and we’re confident this policy will enable more patients who suffer major injuries to access the treatment they need even earlier than is currently the case.”

“Transporting the patent to the most appropriate hospital will improve patient outcomes because not all of the hospitals in New Zealand have the appropriate facilities to treat patients with major injuries.”

 Dr Smith says ambulance personnel have a lot to consider when making such life-saving decisions, including the:


  • Nature of the patient’s known injuries
  • Patient’s anticipated clinical needs
  • Facilities at the hospitals that it’s feasible to transport to
  • Incident location
  • Transport type
  • Weather conditions
  • Travel times/distances
  • Number of patients requiring transportation

“St John ambulance personnel attended over 380,000 emergency incidents in the 2015/16 year and, of those, approximately 2000 involved patients with major trauma injuries. This policy is designed to enable staff to make those life-saving decisions based on the best possible information.”



Noreen Hegarty

St John Media & Public Relations Manager

T 09 526 0528 I X 8095 I M 027 809 2058


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