HEALTH chiefs are calling for a £2m drive to prevent accidental injuries to infants.
The calls come after a new report has revealed Scottish hospitals spent more than £11m treating under-5s in 2013-14. Emergency departments deal with disproportionately high numbers of unintential injuries among under-5s, 15 to 24-year-olds and over 70s, according to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM).
Half of incidents were caused by falls of less than a metre
Young children account for 7 per cent of all emergency treatment in hospital and nearly three quarters of accidental injuries took place at home, the report found.
Treating injuries such as burns, poisoning and fractures cost NHS Scotland £11.4m in 2013/14.
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Half of incidents were caused by falls of less than a metre, the report found.
Both organisations are launching the report in Edinburgh today, calling for a Scotland-wide accident prevention scheme where safety educators would visit families and fit equipment such as safety gates and fireguards, alongside health visitors.
RoSPA chief executive Tom Mullarkey 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.”
Injury prevention programmes have shown a 29 per cent reduction in adverse incidents, according to RoSPA.
It also suggested a 30 per cent reduction in emergency treatment for under-5s would reduce hospital attendances by more than 7,000.
Dr Cliff Mann, president of the RCEM, 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 report was welcomed by children’s doctors, who said more needed to be done to minimise risks as up to 450 children die each year in Scotland.
Professor Russell Viner, Officer for Health Promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “A childhood action accident prevention programme will hopefully go some way to reducing these sky high costs to the Scottish taxpayer and reduce the numbers of young children spending time in A+E wards.
“Accidents are easily preventable with well targeted education and learning, especially in young people.
“But we also need to address other environmental factors that affect our children’s health.
“Deaths in children between 15 and 18 are often the result of road traffic accidents, so we want to see the introduction of Graduated Licensing Schemes for novice drivers of all ages to reduce this risk.”
The report will be delivered at the conference, called ‘Children and Young People’s Safety: What’s the Story?’ at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh.