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Mobile Speed Cameras and the Demand for Secondary Healthcare in Northumbria
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Dr Neil Thorpe
Dr Lee Fawcett
Thorpe N, Fawcett L, Colligan J, Goulbourne LE, McNay A
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The use of road safety cameras has increased significantly in the UK in the last decade as part of the drive towards achieving road casualty reduction targets. Theeffectiveness of mobile, fixed and red-light running cameras in reducing casualties has been well documented although the appropriateness of this approach to road safety continues to be debated at considerable length. In February, 2004, the Northumbria Safety Camera Partnership, which is responsible for the operation of road safety cameras in the Northumbria Police Force area, commissioned a joint team of researchers from the Northumbria NHS Trust and the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Newcastle University to investigate specifically the impact of operating mobile road safety cameras in the region on the demand for secondary health care at the region’s hospitals. In essence, this study attempted therefore to quantify the financial savings (or otherwise) to the NHS of changes in the nature and extent of casualties at mobile safety camera sites following their introduction during 2003. Using ‘before’ and ‘after’ casualty data from a total of 67 mobile camera sites, the research team implemented an extensive multi-stage data linking exercise to match casualties from police records to patient data from Northumbria NHS Trust hospitals. A total of 538 casualties were identified successfully from STATS19 data in the ‘before’ period (April 2001- March 2003) compared to 476 casualties in the ‘after’ period (April 2004-March 2006) – that is, a total reduction of 62 casualties at the camera sites. Each casualty was then allocated to an appropriate Hospital Use Category and then a Health Resource Group with the associated NHS tariff for their treatment. From this the total cost of treatment (in terms of treatment tariffs) of the casualties in the ‘before’ and ‘after’ periods was stimated. Of course, not all changes in the nature and extent of casualties at mobile camera sites can be automatically attributed to camera activity. For example, other factors such as regression-to-mean, general trends in casualty numbers and changes in traffic flow at camera sites need to be accounted for. Thus, an Empirical Bayes statistical framework was applied to the casualty data to isolate the actual impact of the camera activity. The results of this analysis suggest that 52 of the original 62 reduction in casualties at mobile camera sites are due to the operation of mobile road safety cameras. The cost saving (in terms of treatment tariffs as opposed to actual costs incurred) of not having to treat these 52 casualties is estimated at approximately £30,000, which in terms of treatment, is equivalent to some 6 knee or hip replacements, 4 heart bypasses or 20 appendicectomies.
Northumbria Safety Camera Partnership
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