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National Accident Prevention Strategy

Volume 793: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2018


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to implement the forthcoming National Accident Prevention Strategy.

My Lords, the Government look forward to the publication of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ National Accident Prevention Strategy and will consider the report carefully when it is published. We are pleased that RoSPA has worked with a range of experts in developing the strategy, including Public Health England on the evidence. The Government remain committed to promoting action to reduce accidents and are pleased to see that the report recognises the progress that has been made.

I declare an interest as deputy president of RoSPA and thank the Minister for his reply. Deaths from accidents, overwhelmingly in the home, are at an unacceptable level and rising. There has been a 16% increase in such deaths between 2013 and 2017 in England and Wales, with an average of over 13,000 each year. Does the Minister agree that it is imperative that the National Accident Prevention Strategy being launched tomorrow is linked to the NHS 10-year plan? Does he also agree that to ensure the strategy’s success, it is vital that accident-related data collected by hospital emergency departments are made accessible to monitor trends and set priorities for preventive action?

I congratulate the noble Lord and RoSPA on all their good work in this important field. I will start where the noble Lord finished and refer to emergency unit data. Public Health England is working with NHS England and RoSPA to look at how we use the data from emergency datasets. This is a terribly important issue; we know where there are problems and we can act accordingly. Regarding the 10-year plan, no decisions have been made on how the additional funding recently announced by the Government will be distributed across the NHS. That important issue costs the taxpayer an incredible amount of money, which will be taken into account.

My Lords, through their public health function, local authorities have responsibility for accident prevention, and any accidents should show in their annual joint strategic needs assessments. How much money does Public Health England earmark annually for accident prevention and how much of that money reaches local authorities?

My Lords, I cannot answer the noble Baroness in detail, but as far as the funding of Public Health England, which drives this policy, is concerned, local authorities will receive more than £16 billion for public health over the spending review period to invest in public health services to improve the health of the local population, as the noble Baroness is aware. One must not forget the world-leading national immunisation screening programmes, ring-fenced funding of more than £1.2 billion, as well as the world’s first national diabetes prevention programme. I will write to the noble Baroness with any further information I can give her.

My Lords, following on from the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, now that the Prime Minister has announced the end of austerity, would the noble Earl care to inform the House when the cuts to the public health budget will be restored—and more than restored—so that the preventive work required to cut the number of deaths and injuries from accidents can take place?

My Lords, as I told the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, the targeting of the additional funding for the NHS is under review. This will continue and it will be announced in due course where this money will be spent.

My Lords, I draw attention to my interests in the register. We know that the most vulnerable to accidental injury are the youngest in society, the oldest and the poorest. Although we have seen significant reductions in injury in workplaces and on the roads, that has not been mirrored in leisure activity and in the home. How does the Minister account for that difference in outcomes?

My Lords, as the noble Lord said, there are areas where there have been improvements in the figures. Road traffic incidents where people have been severely injured or have, sadly, died have reduced over the years. In addition, for the over-65s, there has been a marked reduction in hip replacements, which are often a result of falls. The whole point of Public Health England in this area of data accumulation is to find out where there are variations in injuries and where work can be targeted at the areas where it is needed.

My Lords, may I express a personal interest? Last week I tripped on a raised paving stone, breaking my radius and smashing my face. I am sorry to bring that to your Lordships’ attention, but it struck me that raised paving stones are not uncommon and that people trip every day. Local public services need to get on with repairing the roads.

I sympathise with the noble Lord: four years ago I fell off a ladder while cutting my hedge and ended up in resus with rather a nasty headache. He is quite right—if you look at the pavements around towns and villages there are many trip hazards. Work should be done to improve them.

My Lords, I take the noble Earl back to his comment that the Government were now considering how to allocate the additional funds for the NHS in light of the announcement this summer. Will he confirm that public health funding through local government has been expressly excluded from that increase in funding, along with education programmes? Can he tell me why?

The noble Lord knows a great deal more about this subject than I do: I will have to write to him with that information.