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Machete, axe and gun attacks: With violent crime on the rise, ITV News joins the medics on the front line

With new violent crime statistics revealing shocking rises in the UK, ITV News spent one week with medics on the front line to investigate how emergency services are handling the troubling increase.

In April it was revealed how the murder rate in London had overtaken that of New York and on Thursday official statisticians announced that in the year to March there had been a 12% increase in homicide in England and Wales and a 16% increase in knife crime.

To see how those figures translate into reality, ITV News spent one week, 24 hours a day, at Liverpool Aintree University Hospital.

The Major Trauma Centre treats some of the country’s most seriously-ill patients. Highly skilled staff look after patients in life and death situations often involved in road traffic collisions, industrial accidents and knife and gunshot injuries.

What ITV News witnessed in the course of one week was extremely shocking.

ITV News spent one week at Liverpool Aintree University Hospital. Credit: ITV News

One violent crime victim was admitted into the hospital's major trauma unit in the early hours of the morning with life-threatening wounds inflicted from many blows with both a machete and an axe.

He had been at home in central Liverpool when, at 2.30am, armed men broke in and attacked him, in front of one of his children, leaving him with a 10cm laceration on his right arm and a 5cm wound on his scalp.

The man was attacked at home with an axe and a machete. Credit: ITV News

On another day a 34-year-old man is admitted to the hospital after being randomly stabbed while walking home through a school playground.

When he entered the hospital he was relatively upbeat and happy to talk, having only one small stab wound, however as time progressed his condition became worse.

While on the surface his injury appeared minor, doctors were careful the give the wound due diligence, knowing that the last five people to be killed in Liverpool all died with just one stab wound.

Thankfully, following surgery the patient made a quick recovery, however he lost half his right kidney and was centimetres from death.

This scene is commonplace at Liverpool Aintree hospital and other medical centre around the country. Credit: ITV News

I think one of the major problems we are trying to address in terms of our trauma prevention work is to get that knowledge across that if you pick up a knife there’s a very good chance you’ll use it, if you use that knife there’s a very good chance it will cause a significant wound, with significant bleeding, and that bleeding can be massive and uncontrolled.

A paramedic or a doctor or nurse in the hospital in the trauma centre may not be able to stop that because its so massive and that person might die. That whole chain of events could have been inverted if that knife wouldn’t have been picked up in the first place.

– Surgeon Nikhil Misra
Surgeon Nikhil Misra wants people to understand that a single stab wound can kill. Credit: ITV News

Doctors and nurses at the hospital say extreme violence is increasing and the rate at which it is doing so is "reaching almost epidemic proportions".

"There's been an increase year-on-year for the last three to four years and it is now becoming a real problem. Not just for us in the major trauma centre but for the city," surgeon Nikhil Misra explained.

"It's got pretty bad for us this year, the last three months, April, May and June have seen a 54% increase in knife related trauma as compared to the first three months of the year and this is reaching almost reaching almost epidemic proportions".

One man's stab wound penetrated his kidney. Credit: ITV News

During the course of the week, stabbings were not the only injuries witnessed - a 20-year-old man was brought in close to death with three gunshot wounds.

After opening his chest surgeons picked shrapnel out of his heart and liver, but nurses were unmoved by the injury, the kind of which they see "quite a bit".

The gunshot victim remains in a serious condition and the other two victims of violent crime are still recovering.

While the latest rise in gun crime is much smaller than previously seen, the number of stabbings is increasingly rapidly.

Doctors across the country want to make clear to would-be offenders that not everyone can be saved and even a single stab wound can be enough to take a life.

Surgeon Misra said: "The sense we're getting is that the knowledge isn't out there, that one single stab can cause fatal bleeding."