Why the government was right to change the 'Our Healthier Nation' accidental injury target

Public Health. 2000 Jul;114(4):232-7.


We congratulate the current UK Government on their inclusion of accidental injury as one of the national targets in the White Paper: Saving Lives-Our Healthier Nation (OHN). We had concerns about the particular target that was proposed in the Green Paper: 'ellipsisto reduce the rate of accidents-here being defined as those which involve a hospital visit or consultation with a family doctor-by at least a fifthellipsis'. The limitations of this target were: firstly, it would focus attention on minor injury and so not reflect the main burden of injury; and secondly, that ascertainment of cases would be influenced by social factors as well as provision of service and access factors. The new target stated in Saving Lives also has its limitations since it will be influenced by service factors. This target is to reduce by 10% the rate of serious injury, defined as injury resulting in four or more days in hospital. We have proposed the use of an alternative indicator of unintentional injury occurrence, based on serious long bone fracture admitted to the hospital. This alternative indicator is based on the occurrence of serious rather than minor injury. It is likely that a high proportion of cases of these injuries can be identified from existing data sources. Ascertainment of cases is likely to be independent of social, service or access factors. Finally, these injuries are associated with significant long term outcomes including disablement, reduced functional capacity and reduced quality of life. It does have the limitation that it does not measure all serious injury. Such a measure is much more difficult to achieve. Further improvements to our proposed indicator could be made in a number of ways, through investigating an extended definition of the indicator to include a range of other serious injuries, improving the quality of existing data, making other data sources available, including outpatient data, and making serious injury a notifiable disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Health Priorities
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • National Health Programs / organization & administration*
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Public Health Administration
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / classification
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control