“My physical injuries are plain for all to see but I have others that cannot be seen. I was robbed of my childhood because I had to grow up and face things that none of my friends had to face.”
Young man who fell into scalding bathwater aged 18 months
Last year, far too many children were killed or suffered disfiguring or disabling injuries in accidents that are completely preventable. In fact, accidental injury is one of the biggest killers of the UK’s children and a leading cause of disability for otherwise healthy children.
The poorest children are at greatest risk. They are 13 times more likely to die in preventable accidents and three times more likely to be admitted to hospital with serious injuries.
The scale of the problem
The scale of the problem is huge: every year, in England alone, 55 under-fives die due to accidents in their own homes and 40,000 are admitted to hospital. The emergency hospital admission rate is 40% higher for children from the most deprived communities.
36 children died on UK roads last year and 2,235 were seriously injured in road accidents. Children living in the most deprived areas are three times more likely to be killed or seriously injured as a pedestrian and six times more likely to be killed or seriously injured as a cyclist.
The personal and financial costs
The personal consequences of a serious accident can be devastating, including years of painful skin grafts or permanent brain damage. They can impair a child’s mental health, education, and job prospects, and put family relationships under serious strain.
On top of these devastating human costs, there are high financial costs for our hard-pressed NHS.
The Chief Medical Officer has estimated that it costs £9 million a year to treat childhood accidents in A&E and another £87 million to treat children who stay in hospital. The cumulative costs are even higher.
In just one year, children who suffer serious bathwater scalds generate lifetime treatment costs for the NHS of £6.7 million.
“Everyone in the burns unit was there because of an accident. None of them were born that way and they hadn’t developed a disease to make them disfigured. In a split second their whole life changed.”
Mother of a 10-month-old who suffered life-changing burns