Call for £2million Scotland-wide childhood accident prevention programme

22/02/2016

Health professionals are launching a call for a £2million annual programme in Scotland to reduce accidental injuries to under-5s and help ease the pressure on A&E departments.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) will be launching their Action on Accidents report as part of RoSPA’s conference at The Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh tomorrow (Tuesday, February 23).

According to their research, A&E departments treat a disproportionate number of unintentional injuries within three age groups – under-5s, 15-24s and over-70s – with under-5s accounting for 7 per cent of all hospital emergency treatment. The cost of that treatment to the NHS in Scotland in 2013/14 was £18million.

With 72 per cent of unintentional injuries to under-5s occurring in the home, RoSPA and RCEM believe injury prevention programmes targeted at this group offer the best opportunity to reduce harm, A&E attendances and hospital admissions.

Injury prevention programmes, such as the Scotland Home Safety Equipment Scheme, which combine education for parents and professionals with safety equipment for families, have proved to be effective and inexpensive and have been shown to achieve a 29 per cent reduction in hospital admissions.

RoSPA and RCEM say an ideal programme would see homes visited by RoSPA-trained safety educators, explaining individual hazards which each family faces, and arranging the fitting of safety equipment such as safety gates and fireguards where needed, while complementing the work already carried out by health visitors.

Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA’s chief executive, said: “RoSPA’s experience of nearly a century of injury prevention shows that a combination of education, information and safety equipment, targeted at the most vulnerable families in areas with the highest injury rates, can produce outstanding results.

“It would cost a relatively small amount of money each year to make a huge difference, not only to the pressures on A&E and the amount of money spent, but also to the lives that can be devastated by accidents.

“Accidents don’t have to happen, and the sooner we address this pressing issue, the sooner we begin to deal with the burden on our A&E departments.”

Dr Cliff Mann, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “The programme we are proposing would prevent substantial numbers of accidents involving children under 5 with a consequent reduction in injuries, far too many of which cause significant harm and long-term effects.

“A&E doctors, while determined to minimise the consequences of injury, would much rather such injuries did not occur. Many are avoidable through simple measures. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine is delighted to be able to make a positive contribution to injury prevention through our partnership with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.”

The report will be delivered at the conference, called Children and Young People’s Safety: What’s the Story? which will also shed light on the impact accidents can have on all of those involved.

Delegates from across Scotland will hear harrowing accounts from victims about their accidents – including accidents on the road, in the water and at home.

Representatives from NHS Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will tell their stories of being first on the scene, while other health and safety professionals will detail projects and programmes aimed at reducing accidents.

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