All schoolchildren in England to learn CPR and basic first aid by 2020

Learning life-saving skills in school is crucial, says UK education secretary Damian Hinds

Learning life-saving skills in school is crucial, says UK education secretary Damian Hinds

Teaching basic first aid, including CPR, in state-funded schools will be compulsory by 2020, the UK government has announced. The plan has been welcomed by the British Heart Foundation, which called it a “decisive moment in the battle to improve cardiac arrest survival rates”.

At current, fewer than one in 10 people who have a cardiac arrest outside of hospital in the UK survive. In countries that already teach CPR in schools, cardiac arrest survival rates are more than double those of the UK, says the government.

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Under the proposed new guidance, by the end of secondary school, pupils will be taught how to administer CPR, the purpose of defibrillators, and basic treatments for common injuries. Schools will be supported if they want to introduce lessons earlier than 2020.

Education secretary Damian Hinds said: “On arriving at university I was struck that the American students I met knew how to do CPR – and I didn’t have a clue. As a father I want my children to have the knowledge and skills they need to keep themselves safe and help others, and as education secretary I want that for every child.”

As a father I want my children to have the knowledge and skills they need to keep themselves safe and help others

“Learning the basic skills of first aid and techniques like CPR will give young people the confidence to know that they can step in to help someone else in need.”

For every minute without life-saving treatment the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest drops by about 10 per cent – meaning that the time before an ambulance arrives is crucial. But the British Red Cross has found that 95 per cent of adults wouldn’t be able, confident or willing to help in three examples of life-threatening first aid emergencies.

Professor Huon Gray, national clinical director for heart disease at NHS England, added: “We are delighted that schoolchildren will have the opportunity of learning life-saving and first aid skills. Knowing how to react when someone suffers a cardiac arrest will truly save lives.”

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