Edinburgh tram track injuries have cost NHS more than £1m

More than 250 people have been injured by tram tracks in Edinburgh at a cost of some £1.25 million to the NHS.

Friday, 17th March 2017, 5:44 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:06 am
Many of the cyclist injuries have been at Haymarket

The number of cyclists and pedestrians hurt by falls on the rails has been compiled for the first time by orthopaedic surgeon Professor Chris Oliver.

It showed a total of 252 people have been injured in the last seven years, 191 of them cyclists. The cyclists comprised 119 men and 72 women.

At least 55 had arm fractures or dislocations, while eight suffered leg fractures and two had facial fractures.

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Prof Oliver, of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, said calculating NHS treatment costs was difficult.

However, based on the £5,000 private health cost of a broken wrist, he said it would be “reasonable” to say the total cost of the injuries was some £1.25m.

Prof Oliver, a former chairman of Cycling UK, said some of the injuries had caused permanent disability.

He told BBC Scotland: “The commonest injury is a fracture of the clavicle [collarbone]. We have had a few more significant injuries, particularly elbow injuries that have been quite complicated and have left people with some permanent disability. It’s become a new work stream for us.

“It’s not the £1m cost to the NHS, the problem is the suffering caused by the accidents and people having time off work, often ending up with some chronic disability with reduced function in a wrist or a shoulder, and perhaps not getting back to sport.”

More than 100 cyclists are suing the city council after falling foul of the tram tracks, with the local authority waiting for a case to come to court.

Council transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “We have yet to be shown the full report but the safety of pedestrians and cyclists is of utmost importance to the council and Transport for Edinburgh.

“Since the launch of Edinburgh trams, we have gone to every effort to raise awareness of its impact on all road users and have ensured clear signage to guide cyclists along the safest routes throughout the city.”