Health managers have been praised for their work to keep children out of casualty.

Accidental injuries claim the lives of three in 100,000 children in Britain every year - the same rate as cancer.

And a national study has said health trusts and councils are failing to reduce the number of youngsters involved in fatal accidents.

But the Audit Commission and the Healthcare Commission's report singled out Brighton and Hove health teams as an example to the rest of Britain.

The Better Safe Than Sorry: Preventing Unintentional Injury to Children report said there were about two million visits by children to hospital emergency wards each year as a result of accidents, many of which could be prevented. The problem costs the NHS about £146 million per year.

Injuries such as those caused by burns, falling down stairs at home, slipping on railway embankments and poisoning were a leading cause of death and illness in children aged one to 14, accounting for about 120,000 hospital admissions a year.

But understanding of the causes of children's injuries was patchy and the actual number of injuries each year was unknown.

Although the overall number of deaths has fallen, the report showed persistent and widening differences between the rich and the poor. Children of parents who have never worked or are long-term unemployed are 13 times more likely to die accidentally than children of parents in higher managerial and professional occupations.

The report said there were many ad hoc initiatives to help prevent children's accidents but they were often poorly coordinated and not enough data was being collected to examine their success.

Brighton and Hove was named as a notable exception because of a comprehensive audit council and health workers carried out into childhood injuries in 2004 - one of the first completed in Britain.

Staff worked with the region's hospitals to identify accident trends that could be tackled. A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Primary Care Trust (PCT) said: "The audit resulted in the development of a three-year child safety strategy.

"One of the recommendations was to establish a children's injury prevention co-ordinating group. This is chaired by the PCT and involves all those contributing to reducing childhood injury in Brighton and Hove.

"The group has helped to gain an overview of injury prevention work across the city and improved data provision from A&E, which will help in identifying what is happening in a particular area or a particular age group.

"It has recently developed a proposal to pilot a child safety loan scheme by providing things such as stair gates and fireguards in east Brighton."