26 March 2012


The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents believes the availability of new injury data - shedding light on years of life lost due to accidents and regional variations in injury rates - represents major progress in efforts to have accident prevention embedded as a public health priority.

The Injury Profiles, launched today by the South West Public Health Observatory (SWPHO) on behalf of Public Health Observatories in England, enable comparisons in the rates of people killed and admitted to hospital as a result of accidents to be made from one English local authority to another.

Based on data for 2008-10, the Injury Profiles reveal that nearly 11,000 people die from accidental injuries in England each year, including more than 2,000 from land transport accidents and nearly 3,300 from falls. Assuming a lifespan of 75 years, this equates to about 5,400 years of life lost. The new data tool also shows that in England in 2010/11, there were more than 650,500 hospital emergency admissions due to accidents, including nearly 50,000 due to land transport accidents and more than 281,000 due to falls in the over 65s.

The local authority with the highest rate of accidental death is revealed as Melton in Leicestershire, with a rate of 29 deaths per 100,000 people, while the lowest rate is in Runnymede in Surrey, where there is a rate of 5.5 per 100,000. The rates for years of life lost vary from 95.6 years per 10,000 people in Melton to 10 per 10,000 in Surrey Heath in Surrey.

Other findings show that in England in 2010/11, there were 137,264 hospital admissions in under-18s due to accidental injury, with the highest rate of admissions being in Liverpool (235.1 admissions per 10,000 people) and the lowest rate being in Three Rivers, Hertfordshire (69.7 per 10,000).

Errol Taylor, RoSPA’s deputy chief executive, said: “RoSPA has been highlighting problems in the availability of accident data, particularly related to home and leisure injuries, for nearly a decade and we welcome the Injury Profiles as a huge step forward in data transparency. Injury Profiles will not only enable accident prevention resources to be targeted effectively, by highlighting where problems lie, but will also be extremely useful in evaluating investment in prevention and providing the evidence base for accident prevention as a cost-effective public health initiative.

“Throughout RoSPA’s 95-year history, it has been clear that working in partnership is crucial. The challenge now is for different partners to come together, both nationally and locally in government, the health service and the third sector, to use this new data to progress accident prevention and reduce the number of deaths and hospital admissions.”

Dr Julia Verne, director of SWPHO, said: “Years of life lost due to injuries are high. There are close to 11,000 deaths from injury each year. Most of these are preventable, making injuries a serious public health concern. Injuries don’t often make the headlines and are consequently something of a ‘hidden’ public health issue. This needs to change. We know that they disproportionately affect the young, the old and the least well off.

“The Injury Profiles mean that we can map variation and start asking serious questions about why these differences exist. Possible explanations are social and economic differences between areas, or differences in injury prevention efforts and access to NHS and care services. There may also be differences in the way injury information is recorded.

“There is a great opportunity as we move into Public Health England to improve injury prevention at a local level and these profiles are timely in helping us do so.”

RoSPA is campaigning for accident prevention to be addressed as a public health priority, and, as part of this, it has contributed to the debate surrounding the reorganisation of public health in England on many occasions. Earlier this month, it was announced that the charity would receive up to £706,309 over three years from the Department of Health’s Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development fund to run The Safer Homes Programme. The programme, which begins next month, aims to reduce the incidence of injury in those most at risk, including young children and older people. It will promote a systematic approach to integrating home safety into local health plans and comes at a crucial time given the emphasis on local decision-making in public health.

SWPHO's press release gives more information about Injury Profiles.


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