The costs of child accidents

January 2013

The NHS spends an estimated £131 million per year on emergency hospital admissions because of childhood accidents. Just a small amount of money invested in injury prevention can save many times that amount further down the line.

To help you make the case for child accident prevention in your area, we’ve put together some examples of accidental injuries, and given an indication of the cost of each of these accidents.

Head injuries

The approximate lifetime medical, educational and social costs for one child with a severe traumatic brain injury is £4.89 million.

  • Around 295,000 under-16s attend A&E with head injuries each year in England. Most head injuries are minor but 1 in 10 is moderate to severe.
  • In England during 2010/11, around 36,500 children under 14 were admitted to hospital with head injuries.
  • Traumatic brain injury accounts for 30% of childhood deaths due to external causes of injury in 1-14 year olds. Children living in deprived areas are more likely to sustain severe traumatic brain injury.
  • Falls and road-traffic accidents are the most common causes of injury, with falls most predominant in the under-2s.

Find out more

Bath water scalds

Hot bath water is the leading cause of serious scalding injuries among young children and the annual cost of treatment for 0-14 year-olds can be £39.2 million.

  • Each year in the UK around 2,000 children attend A&E following bath water scalds.
  • In England during 2010/11, around 400 children aged 0–14 were admitted to hospital with bath water scalds – 57% of all people admitted with these injuries.
  • The cost of a bed day in a specialist burns facility, to treat a minor bath water scald is £750/day.
  • The cost of a bed day in a burns centre intensive care unit is £2,500/day.
  • The cost of treating one very serious scald is between £72,246­ and £172,821.

Find out more

Read our guide on the costs of bath water scalds.


Thousands of children and young people are treated in hospital for burns and scalds each year. Most of these injuries occur in the home and are highly preventable

  • Each year over 3,750 under-5s are admitted to hospital because of burns and scalds.
  • The vast majority of burn injuries happen to children under 5 years old.
  • Treatment for burns injuries is extremely expensive, and can run to hundreds of thousands of pounds for a severe injury.
  • A day in a specialist burns unit costs three times as much as a bed on a normal ward.
  • For a parent who is employed full-time, taking two weeks off work while their child is in hospital costs the economy £7,600.

Find out more

Read our guide to the full cost of burns including bed costs, surgery and medication.

Hot drink scalds

Hot drink scalds are one of the most common childhood injuries and the leading cause of children being admitted to burns services.

  • Each week, more than 300 children in the UK are rushed to hospital with hot drink scalds. Almost 9 in 10 serious scalds from hot drinks involve under 5s.
  • In 2010-11, almost 1,200 children under the age of 16 were admitted to hospital in England and Wales with hot drink scalds.
  • The average cost of inpatient treatment for an uncomplicated minor scald from a hot drink is £1,850. Each year the NHS spends around £2.2 million on inpatient treatment for children and young people with hot drink scalds.

Find out more

Read more about the financial and emotional costs of hot drink scalds, as well as ways to prevent them.

Road accidents

The DfT estimates that the average cost per seriously injured casualty on the roads is £189,519 and that the average cost per fatality is £1.69 million. The annual cost of road accident fatalities and serious injuries among 0-15 year olds stands at £547 million.

  • In 2011, 2,412 children were killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads – that’s seven children every day.
  • In 2011, 60 under 16s were killed on the roads.
  • The number of children killed or seriously injured on the roads has been decreasing year on year, but between 2010 and 2011 there was a 9% increase in the number of child fatalities on the roads.

Find out more

Updated June 2013