Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Data sharing to reduce violence

Incentives are needed to facilitate data sharing and reduce violence

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 19 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4452
  1. Adrian A Boyle, consultant1,
  2. Katrina Snelling, nurse1
  1. 1Cambridge University Foundation Hospitals Trust, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QO, UK
  1. adrian.boyle{at}

Florence and colleagues present powerful evidence that sharing emergency department data with community safety partnerships can bring about meaningful reductions in community violence.1 Information sharing is a simple intervention that is almost entirely without harm or cost. The size of the benefit is far greater than any that has been achieved by changes to the Licensing Act.

The linked editorial acknowledges that implementation of this model of information sharing across the UK has been poor.2 Why is this? Sharing data for injury prevention is a culture shift for acute hospitals. Many hospital clinicians and managers see injury prevention as a public health and primary care role.

There are (groundless) concerns about data protection and breaches of confidentiality. The Data Protection Act makes specific provision for data sharing for injury prevention.

Hospital managers are incentivised by the payment by results system not to reduce activity of low acuity patients at emergency departments. There are currently no incentives to facilitate information sharing in the NHS operating framework.

The Department of Health and commissioners should develop a system of incentives that promotes information sharing between emergency departments and community partnerships.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4452


  • Competing interests: AAB sits on the Department of Health’s information sharing steering group. KS works for the Department of Health to implement information sharing.