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Health Organisations call for life saving skills to be taught in Welsh schools

British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cymru and a number of Welsh health organisations want life saving skills to be taught in all secondary schools in Wales as part of the new school curriculum.

[aoa id=”1″]BHF Cymru, BMA Cymru, British Red Cross Wales, St John’s Cymru and the Royal College of Nursing believe that adding CPR and life-saving skills to the curriculum, will give students in Wales the chance to understand how they can help in an emergency and will improve the odds of survival for the many thousands of people in Wales who have a cardiac arrest in the future.[/aoa]

There are around 2,800 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Wales each year, but less than one in ten people survive across the UK, which is lower than reported in many other countries. BHF Cymru believes Wales can become a leader in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival and address current inequalities by ensuring everyone learns how to perform CPR and use a defibrillator, regardless of where they live or what school they attend.

BHF Cymru Policy and Public Affairs Manager Emma Henwood, explains:

“Wales’ new curriculum is being finalised and we are pleased to see ‘first aid and lifesaving skills’ referenced as an example of a topic which could be taught, but we are deeply concerned that the calls for teaching the skills universally have been rejected. Lifesaving skills are essential and easy to build in to other lessons.

“In countries where CPR is learnt universally in schools, such as Denmark and Norway, cardiac arrest survival rates are often much higher than in the UK. Surveys have shown that one in five adults have witnessed someone collapse who needed CPR, but unfortunately many people don’t have the confidence and skills to perform it. We believe including CPR on to the curriculum as will improve cardiac arrest survival rates in Wales.”

Gregory Lloyd from The Welsh Ambulance NHS Trust (WAST) said:

“WAST recognises the link between a population skilled in delivering CPR and better outcomes for people after cardiac arrest.”

Dafydd Beech, Education Manager for the British Red Cross in Wales, said: “Young people should have the knowledge, willingness and confidence to perform first aid in an emergency.

“Our research has shown that up to 59 per cent of deaths from injury may have been prevented if first aid was given before the emergency medical services arrived. First aid could help to reduce the number of people who die from injury before reaching hospital.

“The development of the new curriculum is Wales’ opportunity to build a nation of people who are able to save a life, by ensuring that every child in Wales learns first aid at school.”

Dr David Bailey, chair of the BMA’s Welsh council said:

“Cardiac arrest survival rates across the UK are still poor, and we’re hoping that the proposed curriculum changes would mean Wales leads the way in empowering young people with the skills to save lives.

CPR and defibrillator training will mean quicker interventions and better outcomes for everyone.”

Helen Whyley, Director of the Royal College of Nursing Wales said:

“This is an issue that RCN members are very passionate about. RCN Wales has lobbied for years to make the teaching of first aid compulsory in all state-funded secondary schools in Wales.  As nurses and health practitioners we know that out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is the most common life-threatening emergency in the UK, and the value of empowering people with the right equipment and training will save lives.”

St John Cymru Director of Training, Jon Phillips said:

“On a daily basis, we see the difference lifesaving skills including first aid can make in an emergency situation.

“We’re disappointed the Welsh Government will not be doing more to follow in England’s footsteps in ensuring these lifesaving skills are a mandatory part of the Welsh education curriculum.

“We will continue to work closely with other organisations, including the British Heart Foundation and the British Red Cross, to ensure no child in Wales leaves full-time education without vital basic first aid skills,” he added.

The group agrees that Life-saving and first aid skills should feature as explicitly as the other important topics already included such as diet, physical activity, personal hygiene and substance use. They believe it is only by having it included in these outcome achievements will we ensure that all children are taught how to respond to the life threatening and first aid situations they may encounter throughout their lives.