In a ground-breaking review of government statistics, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says the ‘true impact’ of accidents is hidden.
Photo: BBC images
According to the charity, there should be a “fundamental re-appraisal” of government public health priorities with a focus on premature and preventable deaths. On that basis, action to curb accidents should be the number one priority, it says.
Official figures show accidents account for just 2% of deaths in England and Wales – far behind cancer, and heart and respiratory disease, but RoSPA says this conceals the true impact of unintentional injuries in a report drawing on data from the Office for National Statistics to argue for a new approach to public health.
“We are faced with an accident epidemic that’s wiping out people in their prime”
Tom Mullarkey, Chief Executive, RoSPA
The charity calculated the years of life lost as a result of premature death, based on the average number of years which those who died could have been expected to live.
This moved accidents up the priority list, because many victims die young.
RoSPA then filtered out deaths which could not have been prevented.
THE KEY FINDING:
RoSPA found that up to the age of 60, accidents were the leading cause of preventable years of life lost, accounting for 23% of the total.
On the back of this extremely important finding we ask the government and the insurance industry two simple questions…
Where’s the ‘compensation culture’ in these figures?
Why are you intent on dismantling health and safety regulations in the UK when people are dying from preventable accidents?
RoSPA’s chief executive, Tom Mullarkey, says this is one of the most important findings in its 95-year history.
He says there is a “moral obligation” to prevent people dying before their time.
“We all know about diseases and the resources that are pumped into preventing the deaths they cause, but if only a fraction of that resource was used to prevent accidents we would not be faced, as we are today, with an accident epidemic that’s wiping out people in their prime.”
The charity says schemes to prevent accidents achieve quick results and can generate huge savings for the NHS. It wants extra support and information for people at key moments in their lives – including teenagers, parents and carers of young children, and people over 65.
RoSPA states that in England alone £1bn each year should be set aside to achieve this. The charity estimates that currently less than £1m is spent annually on these schemes.
In a statement, the Department of Health insisted that accident prevention was a key part of its approach to public health….aye, right.
In the light of government attacks on worker health and safety and a general downgrading of risk assessment and accident prevention, we can only hope that RoSPA’s voice is heard above the din of the insurance industry wailing about the costs of saving people’s lives…
This report should be required reading at Cabinet level and hopefully will be an antidote to the relentless dismantling of the nation’s health and safety regualtions.