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03 May 2022

Seriously injured motorcyclist helps launch Day One at James Cook Hospital

by Dave Nichols

DOTS JCUH Mark Mc Court and Maria Kajda

A MOTORCYCLIST, who suffered severe injuries after a car ran over his body moments after knocking him off his bike, has teamed up with The James Cook University Hospital trauma team to launch the northeast’s first NHS trust partnership with charity Day One Trauma Support.

Mark McCourt remained awake throughout the horrific ordeal in April 2021, when a car pulled out at a junction, resulting in him flipping over his handlebars, bouncing off the car bonnet, skidding along the road and eventually being run over by the car.

Mark, 39, of South Shields, shattered his pelvis, broke his leg, knee, ribs and vertebrate and was air lifted to the Major Trauma Centre at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, where specialist medical staff operated on him. He spent a month in hospital and even longer at home recovering, which involved learning to walk again, living and sleeping downstairs, and showering in a pop-up tent in the garden.

One year on from the crash and Mark has had seven operations, is receiving specialist treatment in London for his damaged bladder and urethra, undergoing physio for his pelvic area and walks with a limp due to weakness in his left leg. The former marine engineer is also dealing with the ongoing psychological impact caused by the injuries, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), flashbacks, and missing out on a ‘dream job’, which he was due to start two days after the crash.

Read Mark’s story in full here.

Mark is speaking about his crash for the first time to help launch Day One Trauma Support at the hospital where he was treated.

Day One is the only charity supporting major trauma patients and their families in the UK, regardless of injury type or location. The charity has partnered with South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs James Cook, thanks to a collaboration with the Trust’s Our Hospitals Charity. James Cook is the Major Trauma Centre for the South Durham, East Cleveland, Tees Valley and North Yorkshire areas.

Day One is providing a caseworker alongside NHS staff on the ward to support patients and their families as soon as they need help, by providing practical, emotional and financial support. Day One can go beyond the scope of the NHS by providing emergency funding for things like accommodation, clothing or specialist equipment, legal and welfare benefits advice, counselling, and befriending through its dedicated team of Peer Support Volunteers. Mark has become Day One’s first Peer Support Volunteer for James Cook and, along with others, will be available to talk with major trauma patients to give them hope and improve their recovery journey.

Mark remains under the care of Mr Andrew Gray, a Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon at James Cook. Together, with the Major Trauma Service, led by Dr Laura Evans, the team is launching the new Day One service for the northeast which will aim to help support the many aspects of patients’ lives as they recover from life-changing injuries.

As part of the launch today (Tuesday 3 May), Day One and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have released new data that shows Mark was one of 211 patients admitted to James Cook following injuries sustained by a road traffic collision (RTC) in 2021. The second highest admission group, following falls from less than two metres. The number is up from 2020 when 173 major trauma patients were admitted because of RTCs, but slightly down from 2019’s figure of 229 people. However, this is probably due to fewer people travelling in 2020 and 2021 due to restrictions in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The figures, obtained through the Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN), also show that over the past three years staff at James Cook have treated 2,997 major trauma patients from across the northeast (945 in 2021, 978 in 2020 and 1,074 in 2019) – an average of three cases every day. These are people suffering multiple injuries from incidents such as road crashes, sporting accidents, physical attacks or falls from height. However, this data only includes patients who were in hospital for more than 72 hours or admitted to critical care. The actual number of people treated for severe injuries is likely to be higher, but patients may have been transferred to other hospitals or discharged within the 72-hour window so aren’t included in the TARN data.

Mark, 39, of South Shields, said: “Although what happened to me was horrendous, I was lucky to have the support of my family around me to get me through it. I had excellent care from the hospital staff, but when a major physical trauma happens to you, there are so many questions that go through your head and you don’t know where to turn. It’s fantastic that Day One is there to help people like me, and my family, navigate the system, and I can’t wait to give back and use my experience to help others across the northeast.”

Lucy Nickson, CEO of Day One Trauma Support, said: “We’re thrilled to launch this partnership so we can help people like Mark get the support they so truly deserve. NHS clinical care is exceptional and has improved thanks to the work of Major Trauma Centres such as the one at James Cook. If you suffer a major physical trauma, you are more likely to survive your injuries, but enormous pressures on the NHS and inequities in the system mean recovery and rehabilitation support is inconsistent. That’s why Day One is becoming the ‘go to’ support for anyone affected by major trauma, as we can provide the vital practical and emotional support people need so they can rebuild their lives and look forward to the future.”

Andrew Gray, Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It's a privilege to work in a Major Trauma Centre and help treat the most seriously injured of patients. We have a fantastic team of specialties here at James Cook that help cover the range of injuries that patients unfortunately suffer after a major incident. These life-changing injuries affect the many physical, but also the psychological, financial and emotional, aspects of patients’ lives and that of their families. This can impact patients long after their injuries have ‘healed’. Being involved and combining with Day One will help our Major Trauma Centre support both patients and their families during the difficult weeks and months after injury and aid their overall recovery and rehabilitation. I am delighted to be part of this initiative.”

Laura Evans, Major Trauma Strategic Lead at The James Cook University Hospital, said: “Delivering Gold standard care to patients who have suffered major trauma requires input from multiple teams of health professionals from the pre-hospital teams, through the Emergency Department, Diagnostics, Critical care, Anaesthesia, multiple surgical specialties, ward-based care and rehabilitation. As clinicians caring for patients immediately after their injury, we are focussed on ensuring patient survival with as few long-lasting consequences of their injuries as possible. It is equally important however, to ensure that patients and their families receive support with the logistics of adapting to their lives after such injuries. The range of services that Day One can offer to our patients is fantastic and will make an enormous difference to the wellbeing of patients and their families. I am really excited at the prospect of the benefits this charity will bring for our patients.”

Ben Murphy, Head of Charity at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted to partner with Day One to further support the excellent care our major trauma patients receive. We know the trauma team works incredibly hard to provide the best possible care to people when they need it most, and this added layer of support from Day One will only enhance their experience – going beyond what the NHS can provide.”

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