Aim The aim of this study was to determine the effect of rurality on the level of destination healthcare facility and ambulance response times for trauma patients in Scotland. Methods We used a retrospective analysis of pre-hospital data routinely collected by the Scottish Ambulance Service from 2009-2010. Incident locations were categorised by rurality, using the Scottish urban/rural classification. The level of destination healthcare facility was coded as either a teaching hospital, large general hospital, general hospital, or other type of facility. Results A total of 64,377 incidents met the inclusion criteria. The majority of incidents occurred in urban areas, which mostly resulted in admission to teaching hospitals. Incidents from other areas resulted in admission to a lowerlevel facility. The majority of incidents originating in very remote small towns and very remote rural areas were treated in a general hospital. Median call-out times and travel times increased with the degree of rurality, although with some exceptions. Conclusions Trauma is relatively rare in rural areas, but patients injured in remote locations are doubly disadvantaged by prolonged pre-hospital times and admission to a hospital that may not be adequately equipped to deal with their injuries. These problems may be overcome by the regionalisation of trauma care, and enhanced retrieval capability.
- Trauma systems