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Getting access to early rehabilitation after major trauma makes a significant difference to a person’s recovery. Rehabilitation can, in some cases, be lifelong. The major trauma rehabilitation work programme strives for early and equitable access to rehabilitation and making sure that services meet the needs of people with complex injuries. This reduces unwarranted variation in care for the most seriously injured New Zealanders.

The programme engaged sector experts and invited clinical teams to address local problems through a national collaborative. This work identified innovations and opportunities that are relevant to and worth sharing with the sector. The rehabilitation workstream continues to evolve, combining quality improvement projects, establishing consistent national data collections, engaging consumers and developing cross-health sector relationships.

The national trauma rehabilitation quality improvement project aims to understand and improve rehabilitation for major trauma patients.

In March 2019 the ACC contracted the Commission to provide support to the National Trauma Network’s programme of work.

The Network identified trauma rehabilitation as an area for the Commission to focus on as part of the quality improvement workstream of the programme, with the aim of ensuring major trauma patients receive timely support throughout their recovery through high-quality rehabilitation services. Patients’ recovery once they are discharged from care is of particular interest.

Early consultation has confirmed there is no certainty of:

  • consistent levels of service across the country
  • equitable access to services across the country
  • services that meet the needs of the complex group of trauma patients.

Two quality improvement approaches will be used for this work:

  1. co-design involving consumers to identify and understand problems and issues, and to design and implement resolutions[1]
  2. working with local project teams to resolve problems and issues via a national collaborative.[2]

The project is not about developing new services. Rather, it is about improving existing services and ensuring better access to them so patients and their whānau are able to access the right rehabilitation services at the right time and achieve the best recovery possible.

Physiotherapist Kat Quick has been appointed clinical lead for the project. Kat has over 16 years' experience in rehabilitation both within New Zealand and in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. She has a special interest in rehabilitation following major trauma, neurosurgery and traumatic brain injury and her clinical experience ranges across the patient pathway from acute to community settings.

An expert advisory group of external experts, consumer representatives and key stakeholders will be established to provide advice to the project. The National Trauma Network’s clinical lead and programme manager are also involved.

If you have any questions, please contact project lead, Kat Quick, at

Background and information

  2. A collaborative involves bringing regional project teams together for three in-person learning sessions over the course of a year. The focus of these sessions is learning from each other and recognised experts in the topic area and learning quality improvement methodologies (tools and techniques). The teams take the learning ‘home’ and work on their projects between each learning session – known as the action period. Support during the action periods is provided by the national project team and peers through Zoom meetings, online forums and on-site mentoring visits. The end products/ outputs are written summaries of the projects that others can learn from and replicate to resolve similar issues. (2003, The Breakthrough Series – IHI’s Collaborative Model for Achieving Breakthrough Improvement)

Related resources

Last updated: 4th May, 2023