Five major trauma centres in the South are joining a national network to provide life-saving care to patients.

England will shortly have 22 centres in place to provide round-the-clock consultant cover for people who have suffered major injuries as a result of road crashes, severe assault, gun and knife wounds and serious falls.

Global evidence suggests people are more likely to survive and have less disability if they are treated by a fleet of specialists.

However, patients can experience longer journey times to the trauma centres as ambulance teams bypass local A&E departments.

Today, five hospital trusts in the South joined the national network, equipped with specialist equipment and the expertise of orthopaedic, neurosurgery and radiology teams.

They are Plymouth Hospitals Trust, North Bristol Trust, Oxford University Hospitals Trust, University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust.

All five centres are dealing with trauma cases at the moment but to varying degrees.

They will now have to meet agreed standards on the kind of care patients can expect from trauma centres.

Under the new system, patients who suffer major injuries will be taken straight to a trauma centre if it is within a 45-minute ambulance drive.

All the centres will have to report outcomes for their patients, such as death rates.

The centres are supported by smaller trauma units providing care for all except the most severe major trauma patients.

If it is not possible to get to a major trauma centre within 45 minutes, or where the patient needs to be stabilised quickly, they will be taken to the nearest hospital with a local trauma unit for immediate treatment.

Patients can then be transferred to the major trauma centre.