Injury prevention co-ordination

November 2012

Topic briefing

Co-ordinating injury prevention activities across a local area is an opportunity to achieve greater focus and impact. But there's no 'one size fits all' approach to co-ordination - different areas need to find the approach that is right for them. This briefing explains the key issues relating to injury prevention co-ordination for senior practitioners and policymakers working in child accident prevention.

Key issues

  • Effective injury prevention co-ordination creates a more targeted focus for injury prevention work across an area, with local partners working together to avoid duplication, fill in gaps and make sure no opportunities are missed. It enables partner organisations to achieve greater impact from the financial and human resources they invest in child accident prevention.
  • NICE guidance recommends that areas appoint an injury prevention co-ordinator and outlines the tasks involved, but there is a great deal of flexibility about how these tasks are delivered. If there’s no immediate funding for a co-ordinator post in your area, then there are several other options you could consider to help you achieve the benefits of a co-ordinated approach.
  • Injury prevention co-ordination needs to be championed and driven at a senior, strategic level. This is an essential part of getting child accident prevention embedded into local commissioning plans, needs assessments and strategies.

Policy arena

In 2009, a cross-departmental review of child accident prevention recommended that local areas appoint child injury prevention co-ordinators. This recommendation was included and expanded upon in the NICE guidance on strategies to prevent unintentional injuries among under-15s, published in 2010.

The NICE guidance states that the purpose of having an injury prevention co-ordinator is: “to help achieve the commitments set out in local plans and strategies for children and young people’s health and wellbeing.”

It describes the following responsibilities for an injury prevention co- ordinator:

  • working with local partnerships that include organisations involved with children, young people, their parents and carers
  • developing a 2-3 year injury prevention strategy with these partners which is integrated into all relevant local plans and strategies for children and young people’s health and wellbeing
  • networking at regional and national level with other child and young person injury prevention co-ordinators
  • raising local awareness about the need for prevention activities, including sitting on the local safeguarding children board, and acting as a local source of information and advice on prevention
  • monitoring progress made on the injury prevention commitments set out in local plans and strategies for children and young people’s health and wellbeing, and reporting progress to the director of children’s services.

Approaches to injury prevention co-ordination

The NICE guidance recommends that areas appoint an injury prevention co- ordinator and provides the job specification outlined above, but there is a great deal of flexibility about the status of the role. It mentions that the co-ordinator could be someone in the local authority, an NHS organisation or another local partner organisation such as the fire and rescue service or a housing association. It also highlights that the co-ordinating role could be jointly funded by several local partners.

For many areas, creating and funding a new full-time position may not be realistic at this time. It’s therefore important to think creatively about how injury prevention co-ordination can be most effectively delivered in your area. This section describes some of the approaches that can be taken.

Appointing an injury prevention co-ordinator

Some areas had already appointed injury prevention co-ordinators prior to the publication of the NICE guidance in 2010. You can find our more about these roles in our case studies about injury prevention co-ordination in Bradford, Wakefield, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly and at the Yorkshire Children’s Centre.

The biggest advantage of this approach is that the individual is able to concentrate all of their efforts on co-ordination, rather than it being just one of their responsibilities. The single focus puts them in a strong position to champion a co-ordinated approach to injury prevention across a wide range of stakeholders, as well as to network with co-ordinators working in other areas of the country.

However, the risk on relying on one person to champion injury prevention co-ordination is that valuable knowledge and momentum could be lost if the individual moves job. Similarly, if the individual has an extended leave of absence for any reason, then co-ordination may falter.

Assigning responsibility to a manager

Some organisations choose to position responsibility for injury prevention co-ordination at manager level. NHS Bristol, for example, has an injury prevention manager who is responsible for reducing unintentional injuries across all age groups and is also the co-ordinator for the Avonsafe partnership. You can find out more in our case study on Avonsafe.

At NHS Salford, a senior public health manager assumed responsibility for laying the foundations for a more co-ordinated approach to unintentional injury prevention – read our NHS Salford case study for more information.

Splitting responsibilities across different levels of the organisation

The injury prevention co-ordination tasks outlined in the NICE guidance cover strategic work and more tactical work. Rather than appointing a single co-ordinator, some organisations have split the tasks between individuals with different types of skills, knowledge and experience. The following two examples show how this can work.

Example 1 (based on Bath and North East Somerset Council and NHS BANES)

  • a health development officer employed by the council and funded by the NHS, who supports frontline practitioners with training and resources to reduce injuries across all age groups
  • a public health commissioning manager whose responsibilities include injury prevention for all age groups.

The injury prevention officer runs training sessions for health visitors and children’s centre staff and provides them with information and resources to reduce childhood injury. The role also involves co-ordinating a home safety equipment scheme and a local multi-agency injury prevention partnership group.

The commissioning manager focuses on strategic issues, such as embedding child accident prevention into the area’s early years strategy and finding ways to get injury prevention into early years settings.

The injury prevention officer and commissioning manager work closely together. For example, if the injury prevention officer says that local practitioners need better data on A&E attendances and emergency hospital admissions, the commissioning manager can explore how this could be built into contracts held with local hospitals.

Example 2 (based on Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT)

  • a children’s accident prevention co-ordinator who sits on the early identification and intervention sub-group of the local safeguarding children board (LSCB)
  • a senior manager for children and maternity public health commissioning with lead responsibility for the QIPP goal of reducing emergency hospital admissions among children and young people
  • a director of public health who links into the Health and Wellbeing Board, Local Safeguarding Children Board and Child Death Overview Panel.

The accident prevention co-ordinator works with frontline practitioners in hospitals to understand the types of injuries that they need to focus on, and develops targeted awareness campaigns and education projects that meet local needs. Through the LSCB sub-group, the co-ordinator has close links with representatives from children’s services, the local police and fire services, health organisations, Connexions and voluntary sector partners.

The senior commissioning manager and director of public health champion child injury prevention work at a strategic level, through their involvement in the QIPP programme and key local structures.

Co-ordinating across a wider area

As well as co-ordinating injury prevention work in your local area, there may be opportunities to link up with organisations across a wider area, to develop a joint strategy, share information and provide mutual support for campaigns and other activities. The Avonsafe partnership, for example, covers the old Avon area, with local groups co-ordinated by injury prevention specialists. You can find out more in our Avonsafe case study.

Commissioning from outside the organisation

It might be possible for your organisation to create a service specification for injury prevention co-ordination, with a view to commissioning an external provider to deliver the service. If you were to commission injury prevention co-ordination services, the provider is likely to need detailed knowledge and experience of the subject and the right local connections. They may be an existing voluntary sector partner or another organisation that you work with already.

Support for injury prevention co-ordinators

Knowledge and skills development

The NICE guidance highlights the importance of making sure that injury prevention co-ordinators have a sound understanding of different prevention measures and the skills needed to deliver the tasks necessary for effective co-ordination. Knowledge and skills can be developed through both formal learning, for example studying towards relevant qualifications, and informal learning opportunities, such as peer support, placements within different organisations or teams, and participation in mentoring programmes like those offered by Making the Link.

Senior-level support

Injury prevention work can be co-ordinated by someone in a more junior role within an organisation, but it must also be understood and championed at a senior, strategic level. Directors of public health and commissioning managers are in an ideal position to see the links between different policies and strategies, and to make the case for embedding child accident prevention work into Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and commissioning plans.

What does effective co-ordination look like?

The overall result of effective co-ordination is a more targeted focus for injury prevention work across an area, with local partners working together to avoid duplication, fill in gaps and make sure no opportunities are missed. Effective co-ordination enables partner organisations to achieve greater impact from the financial and human resources they invest in child accident prevention. Although different localities will have different needs when it comes to injury prevention co-ordination, there are a number of common elements that all areas should aim for:

  • an active and engaged working group of injury prevention champions from relevant organisations in the local area eg public health, stautory and voluntary sector services for children and families, police, fire and rescue, health visiting team, road safety
  • joint working on key activities such as producing a map of accident prevention activities, sharing and analysing local data, and improving the quality of data available on unintentional injuries
  • shared ownership of a childhood unintentional injury prevention strategy that targets activities to local needs
  • feeding into the area’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy
  • linking in with local structures such as the Health and Wellbeing Board, Safeguarding Children Board and Child Death Overview Panel
  • collaboration on campaigns and activities across partner organisations, to maximise the impact of resources and engage families from the areas and communities most in need.

How Making the Link can help you

Making the Link is here to support people with a role to play in child accident prevention throughout England. We recognise that effective child accident prevention programmes and strategies happen through successful partnership working.

We’d like to hear about the work you’re doing in your area and what’s worked well, so that we can share the information with other professionals on the Making the Link site.

Email us at info@makingthelink.net to:

  • submit case studies about your child accident prevention work
  • suggest ideas for Making the Link resources that you would find helpful
  • find out more about the project or any of the information on our website. 

Explore the Making the Link website to:

Stay up to date with Making the Link

Useful links

Making the Link site links

External links

  • Better safe than sorry: Audit Commission report published in 2007 which encouraged primary care trusts and local councils to pool resources and consider the appointment of jointly funded posts to support and sustain prevention strategies.

Download this topic briefing as a PDF

Updated December 2013