Surgeon John Crozier wants standard of coronavirus response used for road crashes

Dr John Crozier
Dr John Crozier

Treatment for people hospitalised with injuries from serious road crashes costs NSW $30 billion each year, but a doctor from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons says "we've got to do better than that".

Chair of the college's trauma committee Dr John Crozier told a Senate inquiry of the push to get to zero deaths on Australian roads before 2050.

"Significant steps have been made, but the current reality of 100 deaths on roads in Australia each month and 100 seriously injured each day can't continue. We have to step up the scale and the scope of our response," he said.

"Many of those survivors will have lifelong disabilities ... Frequently they have brain injuries that significantly impact their further relationships with partners and families for the rest of their life."

Dr Crozier noted how Parliament was currently united in a non-partisan way to prevent deaths from coronavirus, including detailed daily updates about the number of people hospitalised.

Meanwhile, data on crashes that cause serious injuries are significantly delayed and not as easily available.

"That is not the standard that we need," Dr Crozier said.

"Wouldn't (the coronavirus model) be a wonderful national standard for the template of managing our serious injury burden?"

He made his rounds of Liverpool Hospital in Sydney before appearing before the Senate inquiry on Monday morning, and saw two people being treated for serious injuries caused by road crashes - both had been on motorcycles.

In one case, a man had only survived after hours of surgery, but his female pillion had died.

Treatment of a single patient who has a serious brain injury or is paralysed costs the state about $4 million alone.

"We're actually pretty fragile creatures," Dr Crozier said.

He said there needed to be better education to prevent crashes, warning that crashes at 60km/h can still cause "horrific" injuries and people needed to accept speeding fines were not about revenue raising.

The doctor also recommended the appointment of a dedicated federal minister, advised by a national road safety committee, who could act "without fear or favour" on the issue of preventing deaths and serious injuries on the road.

This story COVID-19 response standard should used for road crash data: Surgeon first appeared on The Canberra Times.