first aid education for all 

We speak up for better first aid training

We’re calling on UK governments to create more opportunities for people to learn first aid throughout their life. 

Recreating chest compression on a test dummy

What’s wrong?  

The majority of people in the UK lack the confidence or skills to provide basic first aid in an emergency situation. This leads to unnecessary deaths, injuries and disabilities, and can put greater pressure on emergency services.

The impact of not knowing first aid

A study commissioned by the British Red Cross and conducted by the University of Manchester found that up to 59 per cent of deaths from injury may have been prevented had first aid been carried out before the arrival of emergency medical services. 

First aid was only attempted in around half of all cases (excluding where the person was found dead). This is despite someone being at the scene of the accident before the arrival of the emergency medical services 96 per cent of the time. First aid skills can save lives. We believe that people should have opportunities to learn first aid throughout their life. 

First aid in schools

First aid could be incorporated into a range of subjects taught in schools including sport, science and PSHE (Personal, Social, Health & Economic Education – England only). It could even be demonstrated during assemblies and at after-school clubs.

But it is currently a postcode lottery whether a child or young person has the chance to learn these crucial, life-saving skills. 

However, the government has announced its intention to make PSHE statutory in the future, creating an opportunity for children and young people in all schools across England to learn key life skills, including first aid. 

The British Red Cross is making the case for first aid to feature as part of the statutory curriculum. 

First aid education can ease the pressure on A&E

British Red Cross research found that first aid education could help ease 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.

Seven patient groups who could benefit from first aid

Health care professionals interviewed in our study on first aid and A&E 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 and 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.

Our calls to decision makers:

England

  • First aid education should be mandatory in schools across the UK in order to teach a generation this life-saving skill.
  • Government, schools, teachers, young people and others should champion first aid learning, integrating it into existing subjects and whole-school approaches.
  • We want the role that first aid education can play in building the resilience of individuals and communities to be fully recognised.
  • We believe that first aid education needs to be a clear feature of public health strategies on both a national and local level.
  • We believe that local authorities should work with us and others to ensure that the people who are the most vulnerable to a crisis and their family, friends and carers have the opportunity to learn first aid.

Scotland

  • First aid education should be taught in all schools in Scotland; recognising the role it can play in supporting the experiences and outcomes of the Curriculum for Excellence.
  • First aid education should be recognised as as playing a key role in building the resilience of individuals and communities.

Wales/Cymru

  • First aid education should be taught in all schools in Wales.
  • First aid education should be incorporated into the new school curriculum. 
  • We believe that first aid education needs to be a clear feature of public health strategies on both a national and local level.