A new report by the British Red Cross has found that first aid education could contribute towards easing the pressure on A&E.
The study, commissioned by the Red Cross and conducted by the University of the West of England, Bristol and the University of Bristol, found that:
- Over a third of all survey participants said they attended A&E because they were ‘worried and didn’t know what to do’.
- More than half of the people surveyed in the study had sought advice before going to A&E, e.g. from their GP surgery or a relative.
- Patients struggle to assess severity of health problems and know where best to get help.
- First aid is a ‘lost skill’ – health workers say most patients haven’t attempted first aid before coming to hospital.
Healthcare professionals interviewed in the study identified seven groups of patients who use A&E frequently and could potentially benefit from first aid interventions, either directly or from a carer. These are:
- Patients with long-term health conditions, including mental illness
- Children / parents of young children
- Older people, especially those who are frail or have multiple health needs
- People who use substances
- People referred to A&E by their employer or a first-aider at work
- People receiving health and social care at home or in community settings
- The general public experiencing self-limiting infections and minor injuries.
What this study tells us
The study concludes that first aid education has a role to play in supporting people using A&E by giving the general public greater knowledge and confidence:
- to use over-the-counter medicines
- to self-manage minor illnesses and injuries at home
- and to successfully navigate the complex range of urgent care services available.
Read more about the Red Cross’ response to the research findings in our summary report.