Experts call for action to cut accidents involving under-fives

Nearly 75  per cent of accidents involving under-fives happen in the home. (Posed by model). Picture: Neil Hanna.

Nearly 75 per cent of accidents involving under-fives happen in the home. (Posed by model). Picture: Neil Hanna.

  • Under-fives account for seven per cent of A&E cases
  • Nearly 75 per cent injured in accidents at home
  • Experts want a new £2 million accident prevention programme
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A call for a £2 million accident prevention programme for under-fives is set to be made today (Tuesday) by health professionals.

According to research, under-fives account for seven per cent of all hospital emergency treatment, at a cost for treatment of £18 million in 2013/14.

And with nearly three-quarters of unintentional injuries to under-fives happening at home, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) believe an injury prevention programme targeting this group is the best way forward.

They are launching an Action of Accidents report as part of RoSPA’s conference in Edinburgh tomorrow (Tuesday).

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.

Health professionals say there should be a programme targeting preventing accidents in under fives. (Posed by model). Picture: Neil Hanna.

Health professionals say there should be a programme targeting preventing accidents in under fives. (Posed by model). Picture: Neil Hanna.

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 five 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.