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Need for a UK-wide under-5s injury reduction program

January 7, 2016

Research undertaken by C4TS’s Public Health and Policy team supports calls for a UK-wide programme to reduce unintentional (accidental) injuries to under-5s.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) have called on the government to fund a £20m under-5s injury prevention program.   Based on recent RCEM/ C4TS data from an Oxfordshire study*, unintentional injury in the under-5s accounts for 7% of A&E attendances.  Of these incidents, 18% were the result of serious injury (ie threat to life or limb).

Graham Kirkwood, Research Fellow in Trauma Sciences, Public Health and Policy said “When we looked at the data, it became very clear that the under 5s, 10-14s and the 75 years plus age groups were disproportionately represented in A&E attendances for unintentional injury.  While we need to take action for all these groups, the under 5s are of particular concern because serious injuries can cause life-long impairment.  Very young children are particularly prone to falling and suffering head injuries, with potentially severe consequences.

Because 72% of these injuries occur in the home, we support RoSPA’s proposal for a national program of home visits by RoSPA’s safety educators who would ‘buddy’ health visitors and focus on helping parents make their homes safer.

Many of the injuries A&E clinicians see are avoidable. A prevention program of this nature could realistically aim to achieve a 30% reduction in under 5 injury attendances. Quite apart from saving the child and parents from considerable pain and even tragedy, such a reduction would represent savings to NHS resources in excess of the £20m program proposed."

RoSPA are proposing that their program is formally incorporated into the government’s wider NHS Prevention Strategy.

For more information, please see the attached RoSPA and RCEM factsheet.

*Data available from the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which received 78% of all Oxfordshire A&E attendances in 2013/14.

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