Impact of knife crime on the NHS – new NIHR-funded study

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Doctors and SRMRC researchers at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) have reported on the impact of knife-related injuries on secondary healthcare resources in EClinicalMedicine, published by the Lancet.

The paper’s authors, who work across the NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre, the University of Birmingham and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (which runs QEHB), found that the 25% increase in knife crime was almost entirely accounted for by men aged 16-25, with other demographic groups seeing no significant change. The majority (93%) of hospital admissions for knife crime were male, and almost one in five had attended hospital previously for violence-related injuries.

Female patients were predominantly injured in a domestic setting, which suggested targeted, domestic violence-focused interventions may be effective in reducing the number of female knife crime patients.

98% of all those admitted to hospital with knife injuries survived, thanks to the expert care and support available at QEHB, the Major Trauma Centre (MTC) for the West Midlands.

The paper, ‘Violence-related knife injuries in a UK city; epidemiology and impact on secondary care resources,’ looked at the range of knife-related injuries at QEHB, with key findings leading to recommendations for   targeted interventions across the NHS, injury prevention agencies and police practice.

The study assessed over 500 patients aged 16+ admitted to the MTC at QEHB with knife-related injuries resulting from violence over a three year period.

UHB is working with RedThread, a youth violence charity, with RedThread staff engaging with patients while they are in A&E.

The paper’s lead author, Nabeela Malik, said: “Clinicians at QEHB had noticed a high number of stab wounds, with knife crime accounting for more than 10% of the overall workload in the MTC, so colleagues across UHB, the University of Birmingham, the NIHR SRMRC and the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine decided to work together to both look at the impact of knife crime and find out about patient backgrounds.

“We hope that our findings will inform how MTCs across the country work, with a multi-agency approach across healthcare, law enforcement and injury prevention vital in combatting the recent rise in knife crime.”

The paper also found that the UK national registry for injured patients (Trauma Audit and Research Network) had details for less than half of knife crime patients at QEHB, with the paper’s authors recommending the development of a national registry for all knife injuries.

The full paper can be read at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100296

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