Trauma remains the leading cause of death under the age of 35 years. England and Wales lost 252,000 working years from accidental deaths, including poison, in 1992. In this country, preventable deaths from trauma are inappropriately high. In many hospitals there are not enough personnel; in the majority, there are no recognisable trauma care systems, which can reduce preventable deaths to a minimum. The appropriateness of trauma centres for this country is being assessed in Stoke-on-Trent, and a report is due out later this year. Even if the recommendation is made to establish such centres, it is unlikely that many will be set up. Consequently most hospitals will have to rely on their own resources to set up and run a trauma team. This type of trauma care system is the subject of this article.