Objective. This longitudinal study was designed to assess the effect of an educational training package for primary health care teams in accident prevention for older people, with reference to the incidence of accidents and their associated economic consequence. Methods. Nineteen general practices in the West Midlands serving a population of 138 397 were allocated randomly at the practice level either to receive training or continue normal practice. Study data was collated from the initial telephone call, reporting an accident, to the surgery, advice/treatment given at the practice and/or the community, casualty, inpatient care, written correspondence to the patient's GP and any subsequent follow-up visits for accidents to people aged 65 years or older. Results. One thousand, six hundred and sixty-six (8.2%) patients aged 65 years or older registered with the participating practices experienced one accident or more, costing the NHS pound1.4 million. Extrapolated nationally, annual costs to the NHS for accidents to older people amount to pound568 million. The educational package had no significant impact on the incidence of accidents. A paucity of general safety advice was given [48 (1.8%) occasions]. Conclusions. Budgets are being eroded and patients are suffering unnecessarily due to lack of accident prevention advice. This should be considered a priority within the primary health care team. Educational packages alone do not appear to be a cost-effective approach to accident prevention in primary care.
- older people