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Injury prevention—still a low priority!

Despite the fact that injuries are the leading cause of death in children, a recent study has found that the level of priority given to injury prevention is alarmingly low. The study explored the level of priority given to injury prevention both at a national level and also within the north west London Borough of Brent. The study involved a literature review and completion of a questionnaire by professionals in health, social care, and voluntary organisations in Brent. Respondents, more than half of whom completed the questionnaires, varied from directors, project coordinators, and clinicians. The study established that the government has clearly identified injuries as a priority, this was evident in the white paper Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation, in which injury prevention was identified as one of four priority areas alongside cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke, and mental health.

Numerous other documents including the Accidental Injury Task Force Report Preventing Accidental Injury—Priorities for Action have emerged over recent years highlighting the same issue, often providing a clear strategy to tackle the high number of childhood injuries. However, when the questionnaire respondents were asked to name any documents they have come across which mention injury prevention, alarmingly there was no mention of any of these documents. Although the government has identified injury prevention as a priority, questionnaire respondents think the level of priority given to injury prevention both in Brent and at a national level was either very low or low and the majority felt this was not appropriate. Respondents suggested injury prevention is given a low priority due to competition against other demands, lack of resources, and lack of organisational focus. Encouragingly, 70% of respondents felt injury prevention fell into their remit, although fewer than half had carried out or were currently involved in any injury prevention work. Interventions underway included classroom sessions, talking to parents in health interviews, and risk assessments. Reasons given for not being involved in any injury prevention interventions included a lack of resources, particularly funding, lack of partnership work, and a lack of support for those who are wanting or required to carry out injury prevention work.

Recommendations to raise the level of priority given to injury prevention, which stemmed from this study, include:

  • Identify a lead person for injury prevention in Brent.

  • Ensure national and local documents are accessible to all.

  • Form an injury prevention network at both a regional and local level.

  • Develop training courses to raise awareness.

  • Encourage partnership working.

  • Explore funding streams.

  • Try to link new interventions to existing projects/schemes, such as the healthy schools scheme.

This short project was carried out as part of the injury prevention course run by the University of Newcastle and Child Accident Prevention Trust by one of the students, Tracy Walsh, a health promotion specialist at Brent Primary Care Trust, London, UK. We are happy to publish similar student projects that may be of wider interest. The should be sent to Injury Prevention Deputy Editor Michael Hayes at mhcapt.org.uk.

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