hvEarly-years workers need more support and training to help them improve their role in reducing the number of preventable injuries to under-5s, according to a new report by Public Health England and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

‘Reducing Unintentional Injuries in and Around the Home Among Children Under Five Years’ highlights actions local partners can take to reduce accidents including improving safety for children travelling to and from school and using existing services like health visitors and children’s centres.

The report, based on a 5-year study by the Child Accident Prevention Trust, calls for 3 areas of action to be prioritised to reduce the number of accidents and deaths in young children:
• More staff training to further develop competence reducing unintentional injuries
• More emphasis tackling the leading, preventable causes of death: choking, suffocation and strangulation; falls; poisoning; burns and scalds; and drowning
• Local authorities work with schools to address safer travel to and from school by introducing 20mph limits in priority areas.

PHE Director for Children, Young People & Families Dr Ann Hoskins said: “Whilst unintentional injuries are continuing to fall, there are still too many accidents taking place either in the home or on the roads, many of which are preventable.

“Local authorities and their partners, such as the NHS and emergency services, are already doing lots of good work in this area and these new resources can provide some extra support to help them to prevent more injuries and deaths.”

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Unintentional injuries in and around the home are a leading cause of preventable death for children under-5 and are a major cause of ill health and serious disability.

Figures from between 2008 and 2012 show that each year approximately 60 children and young people died, 450,000 attended A&E departments and 40,000 were admitted to hospital as an emergency. PHE believes that directors of public health and directors of children’s services, together with local children’s trust boards/children’s partnership boards and health and wellbeing boards (HWBs), are in an ideal position to provide leadership towards reducing this trend.

The study also highlighted the ‘devastating’ personal costs of an injury and a persistent social pattern for unintentional injuries and inequalities have widened. An appendix report entitled ‘Reducing Unintentional Injuries on the Roads among Children and Young People under 25 Years’ showed there were more than 320,000 road casualties and 2,300 road deaths among children and young people under the age of 25 year in England from 2008-12, and backed the call for reduced speed limits.