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Treat knife crime like TB epidemic, professor urges

PUBLISHED: 21:41 05 May 2009 | UPDATED: 14:20 05 October 2010

KNIFE crime should be treated as a public health problem in the same way as TB or obesity, a leading London medical consultant warned today. The Royal London Hospital’s Prof Karim Brohi has spoken out on the need for health chiefs to get to the root cause of knife crime

By Gemma Collins

KNIFE crime should be treated as a public health problem in the same way as TB or obesity, a leading London medical consultant warned today (Tuesday).

The Royal London Hospital’s Prof Karim Brohi has spoken out on the need for health chiefs to get to the root cause of knife crime.

The 40-year-old professor of trauma science sees 90 teenagers a year with stab wounds coming through the doors of his specialist trauma unit in Whitechapel in East London.

300 STABBINGS

The figures are rising, he fears. His unit deals with 300 stab victims a year—double the number five years ago.

This is causing a financial strain on the NHS in particular and on society in general, Prof Brohi points out.

“Teenagers pick up knives and go beyond because they have grown up in a culture of violence,” he told the East London Advertiser.

“The NHS can help by focusing on the management of this—as if it is a public health problem, like TB or obesity.

“If you can understand why it is happening, you can prevent it from happening as well as treat it.”

TRAUMA UNIT

The Royal London has the biggest trauma unit in the capital and treats 1,400 patients a year who have serious injuries from stabbings, shootings or road accidents.

Trauma is costing the NHS £1.6 billion every year, Prof Brohi has estimates.

The Government has plans to open a network of three more major trauma units in London modelled on the Royal London’s example.

The new network would provide more support to patients after treatment and get teenagers involved in gang prevention programmes, he believes.

“The network would also work to prevent injury,” he explains.

“There’s a good chance that patients don’t need to die.”

One-in-three deaths are preventable, Prof Brohi believes. The burden on society of injuries could then be reduced.

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