Thermostatic mixing valves could save NHS over £3 million a year

Installing temperature controlled thermostatic mixing valves in the UK’s social housing properties could save the NHS more than £3 million a year according to a new report.

There are 2,600 bath water scalds reported every year in the UK, and 1,107 of these are scalds to children.

Children under 5 are at particular risk of bath water scalds, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds are more than three times as likely as their more affluent peers to require hospital treatment for burns and scalds.

The authors base their findings on families with children under 5 living in homes in Glasgow, provided by Europe’s largest provider of social housing.

New building regulations, which took effect in England and Wales from April 2010, stipulate that the hot water supply fixed to any bath for new build properties or those where there is a change of use, must not exceed 48 degrees.

But the temperature on existing home water heaters is often set at 60 degrees or above which can cause significant burns and scalds to children.

The authors compared the costs of buying, installing, and maintaining thermostatic mixer valves (TMVs) in new build or completely refurbished properties with the known costs of treating young children with scalds.

After calculating the likely risk reduction in bath water scalds when fitting a TMV (68%) and the amount of social housing properties with young children at risk from bath water scalds (582,700), the researchers have calculated that an estimated 444 children a year, living in social housing, would benefit from TMVs being fitted.

Savings to the NHS would total £11.2 million, producing a net saving of £3.3 million or £1.41 saved for each £1 spent every year.

“Social housing providers should therefore consider fitting thermostatic mixer valves when baths are replaced, as well as complying with existing building regulations,” say the authors.

The research, published in the Injury Prevention journal, is led by Denise Kendrick at the University of Nottingham and the research team includes CAPT’s Mike Hayes.

More information

Updated July 2011