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Rise in sport injury cases treated in A&E

June 13, 2012: Accident and emergency departments in England have seen a 14 per cent rise in sports injury cases in a year.

Just over 388,500 cases were treated in the 12 months to February 2012; up from nearly 338,200 in the previous 12 month period.

Sports injury attendances rose by a greater percentage than A&E admissions overall, which rose by seven per cent during the same period, although both figures may be affected by increased recording of A&E data over time.

Just over half of all A&E attendances for sports injuries involved young men aged 10 to 29 (205,500) according to today's report, which also shows attendances peak on Saturday afternoons between 3pm and 5pm; and Sundays between 11am and 4pm.

In the 24 months to February 2012, attendances were high in March and early autumn (September and October) and lower in summer (June to August) and December.

The report also shows that in the 12 months to February 2012:

  • Hospitals in the South West Strategic Health Authority (SHA) recorded the highest rate of A&E attendances for sports injuries in the under-40s (20.4 per 1,000 of this age group; or 50,100), while London SHA recorded the lowest rate (6.8 per 1,000; or 31,400).
  • Just under six per cent of sport injury cases seen in A&E resulted in an admission to hospital (22,200), while just over half (53 per cent, or 207,000) saw the patient discharged with no further treatment.
  • Sports injuries account for about two per cent of A&E cases recorded in HES, but 12 per cent of crutches recorded as issued by A&E departments (7,500) and nine per cent of splint treatments (18,600); along with seven per cent of plaster of Paris treatments (13,600).

The HSCIC's chief executive Tim Straughan said: "Sport seems to be catching the public imagination at the moment with the Olympics just around the corner. While our hospital figures do not of course represent levels of sports participation over time, they do give an insight into the amount of injuries ending up in A&E through sport.

"Today's report shows that there has been a considerable rise in such injuries being treated by A&E staff, with cases up by about 15 per cent in a year. About half of all of these cases - so just over 200,000 - were for males aged 10 to 29."

See the full report here.


Notes to editors 

  1. The HSCIC was previously known as the NHS Information Centre. It is England's authoritative, independent source of health and social care information. It works with a wide range of health and social care providers nationwide to provide the facts and figures that help the NHS and social services run effectively. Its role is to collect data, analyse it and convert it into useful information which helps providers improve their services and supports academics, researchers, regulators and policymakers in their work. The HSCIC also produces a wide range of statistical publications each year across a number of areas including: primary care, health and lifestyles, screening, hospital care, population and geography, social care and workforce and pay statistics.
  2. Today's press release focuses on a special topic which is part of a wider monthly publication of all provisional inpatient, outpatient and A&E activity in NHS hospitals in England. The publication includes provisional monthly data for April 2011 to February 2012 and final data for all months to March 2011
  3. Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) are compiled from data sent by more than 300 NHS trusts and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England and from some independent sector organisations for activity commissioned by the English NHS. The HSCIC liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain. Figures refer to recorded admissions and are reliant upon the accurate and complete recording of cause of hospital admission.
  4. HES A&E data is experimental and coverage is incomplete. The Department of Health's QMAE data return remains the official source of A&E attendance numbers. For the QMAE data, there were 21.4 million unplanned attendances at A&E, in comparison to the 15.8 recorded in the Hospital Episode Statistics, on which this report is based. However HES data is able to offer more detailed analysis.
  5. HES provisional monthly data can be used for high level, aggregate analysis demonstrating approximate trends in activity. Lower level analysis should be approached with caution as not all activity will be correctly processed until the final annual data is produced. HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage of data recorded (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, apparent reductions in activity may be due to a number of procedures which may now be undertaken in outpatient settings and so no longer included in admitted patient HES data.
  6. Please note that these data should not be described as a count of people as the same person may have been admitted or treated on more than one occasion.
  7. Figures in this press release have been rounded to the nearest 100.
  8. For media enquires please call 0845 257 6990 or email
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