I had the pleasure of hosting an event for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accident, RoSPA, on their “Scotland’s Big Book of Accident Prevention” and am even more delighted to have written the forward for the book. My own interest in Accident prevention was sparked, sadly, by the death of my 15 year old niece in a road traffic accident. It prompted me, a non- professional in the area, to ensure that as an elected member I would try to raise awareness and progress Accident Prevention. It was then that my education began, from Chair of the Scottish Accident Prevention Council Home Safety Committee as a Councillor to having establishing and convening the Cross Party Group on Accident Prevention and Safety awareness, the professionals have shown me that this is an area of Social Justice of which we should all be aware.
RoSPa’s research into the statistics regarding accidents and deaths from socially deprived backgrounds is staggering: children from poorer backgrounds are five times more likely to die as a result of an accident than children from better off families – and the gap is widening.
“Unintentional injury disproportionately affects the most vulnerable groups in society – notably children, older people and those living in areas of deprivation”
So it is imperative that, if we are to reduce inequality in our society, we must fully understand the link between accidents and deprivation and do all that we can to reduce the dangerous of unintentional injury.
RoSPA’ s “Scotland’s big Book of Accident Prevention” is unique in that it highlights how better outcomes and health of Scotland’s population can be achieved by partnership working in the area of accident prevention and safety awareness and highlights the seven areas in the National Outcome framework that are directly linked with accident prevention and harm reduction. The report highlights the burden, both financial and emotional, of accidents in Scotland and demonstrates the progress that could be made towards achieving the National Outcomes by promotion of accident prevention across a range of areas, ages and social circumstances.
And we know it works!
Decades of investment in safer vehicles, improved road design, policing and driver education have dramatically reduced road deaths in Scotland. I commend my colleague Bruce Crawford on receiving the first ever Scottish Road Safety Parliamentarian Award by the charity Brake and Digby Brown Solicitors in recognition of his work to introduce a 20mph speed limit in the Stirling suburb of Cornton. My home area of North Lanarkshire has had this policy in place for a number of years and has significantly reduced accidents as a result.
Not only does it work it makes sense for our hard pushed NHS services as reducing unintentional injury saves money! Accidents account for 30 % of A&E attendances. RoSPA has collated the research and estimated the cost to society to be £12.4 billion every year, with over half that cost attributed to accidents in the home and during leisure activities. Tackling this problem could save the lives of 1300 people in Scotland every year and what’s more accident prevention strategies have been shown to be one of the cheapest and most effective forms of public health intervention.
The book highlights a number of successful case studies, I would like to highlight in particular “Scotland’s Home Safety Equipment Scheme”, hosted by RoSPA and funded by the Scottish Government. It was delivered across 12 local authorities in partnership with the Scottish Fire Service and Care and Repair Scotland. The independent evaluation by SMCI Associates showed an excellent progress in awareness and understanding of the potential for accidents in the home.
I hope that Scotland’s big Book of Accident Prevention will be the go to reference document for decision makers in the future, that Scotland will become a world leader in this area and that families will be spared the trauma I know only too well of losing a loved one in an accident.
The book can be viewed at http://www.rospa.com/rospaweb/docs/advice-services/public-health/big-book-scotland.pdf