Anne-Marie Trevelyan in the MP for Berwick upon Tweed.
Today I will remain in Westminster, rather than heading back to my constituency, in order to support the Emergency First Aid Private Members Bill, tabled by my colleague Teresa Pearce MP.
The Bill has the potential to have a genuinely positive impact by ensuring all secondary schools in England provide young people with the opportunity to learn first aid skills, and gain the confidence to know what to do in a medical emergency. Ultimately, it can help to save lives.
For me, the case for teaching first aid to all young people is unassailable.
There are tens of thousands of medical emergencies every year in the UK, resulting in deaths, injuries and disabilities. Less than one in ten people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest. In countries where CPR is taught at school, survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest more than double. That’s real peoples’ lives being saved thanks to education.
The opportunity for an MP to vote on such a crucial issue, that could touch the lives of any or all of us, comes up rarely in a Parliament.
This bill isn’t about burdening young people with the pressure to deliver first aid, but, by imparting such knowledge through schools, this has the power to kick-start a culture change for future generations. This bill can empower all of us to become more confident and able to step in to help someone when they need it.
I was taught first aid skills as a Girl Guide, and have had cause three times in my life (2 at the scene of car crashes) to help save lives by applying basic but vital principles to injured people.
There are also broader health considerations where greater first aid knowledge can be of benefit. We are all aware that our A&E departments are under increasing pressure to treat people. Whilst not a panacea to solving this issue, there is evidence to suggest that greater knowledge of first aid can also help reduce the numbers of unnecessary visits to A&E.
Some schools already do an excellent job of teaching these essential life skills, with the support of charities like St Johns Ambulance. Yet, despite widespread support for first aid education, currently only 1 in 4 secondary schools offer any form of first aid training.
This Bill is not about imposing even more targets on schools and teachers. Schools and head teachers would have the flexibility to decide when and how to impart these core skills – whether it is within a morning assembly, or as part of a PE or biology class, for example.
It will not require teachers to have any prior medical knowledge, nor will it take up a huge degree of the school timetable. CPR can be taught in a little as 30 minutes – a small investment in a child’s school year for a huge reward.
These skills are quick and easy to teach and learn. The British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross, and St John Ambulance and other organisations provide free resources for schools, so there is no cost implication attached with this either.
There is cross-party backing for the Bill and I know many colleagues will, like me, have been inundated with messages of support from constituents. It is not a controversial issue and it should not be political, but it will touch each and every one of us. As such, I urge fellow Conservative MPs to join me in support of the Bill to give every child the opportunity to be a lifesaver.