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Accidents: Cycling

Health written question – answered on 20th February 2012.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Minister (Public Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) what estimate his Department has made of the cost to the NHS of treating people involved in cycling accidents who were not wearing a cycle helmet in (a) 2010 and (b) 2011;

(2) how many people were admitted to hospital as a result of cycling accidents in each of the last five years.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns The Minister of State, Department of Health

The information requested on the cost of treating people injured in cycling accidents is not collected centrally.

The following table shows a count of finished admission episodes (FAEs), where there was a cause code relating to an accident involving a pedal cycle, for the financial years 2006-07 to 2010-11. The data includes episodes where the cyclist was injured in the accident and also episodes where someone else was injured by the cyclist.

Activity in English NHS hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector
2010-11 16,423
2009-10 15,962
2008-09 14,013
2007-08 14,033
2006-07 13,679
Notes: 1. Finished admission episodes A finished admission episode (FAE) is the first period of in-patient care under one consultant within one health care provider. FAEs are counted against the year in which the admission episode finishes. Admissions do not represent the number of in-patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year. 2. Cause code A supplementary code that indicates the nature of any external cause of injury, poisoning or other adverse effects. Only the first external cause code which is coded within the episode is counted in HES. 3. Assessing growth through time HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, apparent reductions in activity may be due to a number of procedures which may now be undertaken in out-patient settings and so no longer include in admitted patient HES data. Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), Health and Social Care Information Centre

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Martin Dann
Posted on 22 Feb 2012 1:01 pm (Report this annotation)

The first question is loaded. It includes people who have broken limbs or cut themselves without injuring their heads. It also does not take into account head injuries where a helmet would not have mitigated the injuries.

There is no scientific evidence that cycle helmets do stop or mitigate major head injuries, despite many studies.

Perhaps Diana Abbot should look at the costs of helmet promotion to the NHS before promoting them further. A recent study in the New Zealand Medical Journal suggests that there may be 51 premature deaths a year due to reduced exercise in it's population because of mandatory helmet laws in New Zealand.

If we want to reduce NHS costs then we should be promoting cycling, not trying to reduce it with red herrings like cycle helmets.