Powerful new expert group aims to make accident prevention a priority

01/08/2016

Health professionals, prevention experts and academics from across the healthcare sector have come together to form a new strategic group to ensure accident prevention becomes a top priority.

Organisations including the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Royal Society for Public Health, the Faculty of Public Health, the Institute of Health Visiting and RoSPA have joined together with The Department of Health and Public Health England, to create the National Accident Prevention Strategy Advisory Group (NAPSAG).

Accidental/unintentional injury places a huge burden on the UK population and the National Health Service, with accidents being one of the top major issues in public health – but one which is not prioritised proportionately.  The impact results in a huge burden on the population including:

  • At least 1.6 million people in the UK will die in an accident, unless action is taken. Accidents are the leading cause of death among children and young people.

  • An enormous impact in terms of disability, outstripping other major causes of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), which also involves significant long-term costs to the taxpayer.

  • Unparalleled pressure on A&E departments – a third of all attendances are caused by accidental injury, and accidental injury represents 70 per cent of all preventable attendances at A&E.

Accidents don’t have to happen, and measures to prevent accidents are typically the quickest, most efficient and inexpensive interventions, producing results which can be measured in months and years, unlike disease prevention which typically measures outcomes in terms of years and decades.

NAPSAG aims, through its expert bodies and individuals, to develop a national accident prevention strategy that will see this subject properly prioritised within public health, empowering people to make better decisions that enable them to enjoy life to the full while at the same time, reducing the incidence of premature death, decreasing the number of life-changing injuries as well as easing the burden on the nation’s healthcare system.

To do this, the group will use existing data, call for additional evidence where required, and highlight the appropriate use of the “Es of intervention”: engineering, enforcement, education and empowerment.

Former Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell, will spearhead the group as its chairman.

He said: “Accident prevention is an extremely important public health priority that is not currently being properly recognised within the many competing pressures on local authorities. If we are to make a dent in the terrible strain on our health services then this needs to change.

“NAPSAG’s members have come together from across the healthcare spectrum, and they all feel that this burning issue needs to be much higher on the public health agenda – with a new accident prevention strategy, to be implemented right down to local levels on the ground. We aim to make this a reality.”

Tom Mullarkey, chief executive at RoSPA, said: “Evidence proves that accidents are the number one cause of preventable, premature mortality until it is overtaken by preventable cancer when people reach their 70s. Because accident prevention is not seen as a mainstream, disease-focussed clinical intervention, and because other causes have higher public profiles, this subject has been increasingly neglected over recent decades. Meanwhile the number of accidental deaths has increased by 13 per cent over the past five years and our A&E departments are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the pressures they are under. Improving our national healthcare response capacity requires an accident prevention strategy at its core.”

NAPSAG’s inaugural meeting took place on April 6.

Organisations working together in the National Accident Prevention Strategy Advisory Group:

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services

Association of Directors of Public Health

Association of Retirement Housing Managers

Department of Health

Faculty of Public Health

Institute of Health Visiting

National Housing Federation

Public Health England

Royal College of Emergency Medicine

Royal College of General Practitioners

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Royal Society for Public Health

Sport England.

Additional Members:

Professor Denise Kendrick – University of Nottingham

Mr Dominic Harrison - Director of Public Health, Blackburn with Darwen

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