15 February 2013
Putting accident prevention at the heart of England’s public health strategy could drastically cut A&E attendance and waiting times, says the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
The 96-year-old charity has renewed its calls for a nationally coordinated approach to injury prevention after the King’s Fund unveiled evidence showing that 232,000 patients waited four hours or longer in A&E in the last quarter of 2012 – the highest number for a decade.
RoSPA believes that an increase in home accidents is helping to fuel the long waits in A&E departments. It says that increased funding for accident prevention initiatives and a task force to coordinate national action could lead to a major reduction in the number of deaths and injuries caused by accidents.
Accidents cost society an estimated £150billion every year, with home and leisure accidents accounting for £95billion of this figure. The cost to the NHS each year that is due to accidents is £20-30billion.
Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA's chief executive, said: “We have long believed that accident prevention should be the number one priority for public health, discovering last year what we had long suspected: that accidents are the leading cause of preventable, premature mortality up to the age of at least 60.
“These latest figures from the King’s Fund further underline why much more must be done to tackle the issue of injury prevention. The rising epidemic of easily preventable home accidents is unquestionably contributing to more people having to wait longer in A&E departments, placing increasing pressure on the NHS as it seeks to make £20billion of savings by 2015.
“Improving prevention programmes by prioritising accident prevention within public health is the best way forward, and one which we think is being ignored at a strategic level.
“Injury prevention is known to be the most cost-effective public health intervention - and it works. Taking a properly funded, coordinated approach will cut costs, waiting times and – most importantly – save thousands of lives.”
RoSPA’s Big Book of Accident Prevention reveals how accidents are the leading cause of preventable, premature mortality up to at least the age of 60. To read its findings, or find out more about RoSPA’s public health campaign, visit www.rospa.com/publichealth/