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New research sheds light on the cost of violence to Wales’ healthcare system

Image displays an infographic demonstrating the costs of violence to the healthcare system in Wales

A new report looking into the impact of violence in Wales has revealed that violent incidents cost the NHS almost £50 million each year.

The report is the latest nationwide assessment of the costs violence to the healthcare system and was commissioned by the Wales Violence Prevention Unit to help better invest in violence prevention schemes.

New figures in the report show that alongside the personal misery experienced by families and communities, responding to violent incidents, including physical assaults, intimate partner violence, knife crime and self-harm, cost the Welsh healthcare system £46.6 million in 2018/2019.

The study estimates a further £158.8 million was spent on treating the long-term health conditions commonly associated with the consequences of violence.

Short-term costs associated with physical injuries from assault and abuse amount to £13.9 million every year. This includes the costs of A&E attendances, ambulance call outs and hospital admissions, with a further £22.2 million spent on treatment for the emotional impact of violence, such as counselling for depression and anxiety.

The research also found that £158.8 million is spent every year in Wales on treatment for depression and anxiety, alcohol use and illicit drug use. An increasing body of research has identified that a proportion of these health concerns can result from the individual experiencing violence and neglect in childhood, indicating that violence contributes to this substantial cost.

The research was conducted by the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University. It recommends first enabling a system of enhanced information sharing between organisations to better understand the nature and occurrence of violence across Wales. It also recommends investing more in community-based programmes focused on early intervention to prevent violence and initiatives to support the early identification of the signs of violence in order to reduce the financial burden of violence on the healthcare system.

“The health and emotional costs of violence for people who experience it can be far greater than the economic burden it places on services. However, establishing the financial cost of violence to our healthcare system supports us and our partners in making informed decisions on how to invest vital funds and resources to prevent violence.

“The report’s recommendations demonstrate how, in Wales, we are certainly heading in the right direction to prevent violence and the misery it causes. However, there is more that can be done and we will continue to work with our partners including in health, policing and criminal justice sectors to identify cost-effective measures that will prevent violence now and protect our future generations.”

Jon Drake, Director, Wales Violence Prevention Unit

“Our research shows that violence imposes a substantial annual economic burden on the healthcare system in Wales. However, violence is preventable, and our report also identifies evidence showing that investment in community-based programmes and early intervention to prevent violence can be a cost-effective use of public resources.”

Lisa Jones, Reader in Public Health, LJMU, who led the research

Download the full report

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