Accidents at home cost the UK '£45bn a year'

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Accidents in the home cost the UK £45.6 billion a year in hospital bills, time off work and benefits, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said today.

Research by the safety charity found the average cost for each casualty injured at home was £16,900, with around 2.7 million people needing hospital treatment every year.

The cost has almost doubled since RoSPA last reported on home accidents in 1996, when it was estimated at £25.62 billion.

The figure is based on lost contributions to the economy, the value of avoiding the injury and the cost of medical and support services.

It does not include the 4,000 deaths every year caused by accidents in the home, which cost £1.61 million each.

Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA chief executive, said: "We have long known that more people are killed or injured in accidents at home than in any other setting and the multi-billion pound cost of these accidents is, quite simply, breathtaking and unacceptable.

"It is a sad fact that overall, accidental deaths have increased in recent years. Accidents typically associated with the home, such as falls, account for some of this rise.

"It is time to get serious about accident prevention, particularly in the home, which has been the Cinderella of safety for far too long because injuries are suffered behind closed doors.

"This is not just about saving money - a strong argument, but one that will not stand by itself - but is a way of halting the misery that accidents inflict on so many in our communities."

The report was published ahead of RoSPA's national home safety congress in Glasgow today and tomorrow.

Delegates will discuss whether a value can be put on quality of life as well as considering how to improve safety in the home.

Fergus Ewing MSP, Scotland's minister for community safety, will open the congress today with a keynote address.

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA's home safety manager for England, said: "The latest figures about the cost of home accidents give renewed impetus to prevention campaigns.

"I am pleased they are being presented in the context of our annual congress, which is attended by home safety professionals from across the UK.

"Being able to quantify the financial benefits of prevention, as well as the emotional benefits, should help them as they seek funding for their work."