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British Red Cross: first aid training could ease pressure on emergency departments

Giving more people first aid training might help ease strain on busy emergency departments, a new report suggests.

Giving more people first aid training might help alleviate strain on busy emergency departments (EDs), a new report suggests.

A review of why people turn to urgent emergency care, conducted on behalf of the British Red Cross Society, found that many members of the public lack confidence in managing minor illnesses and injuries.

Health professionals interviewed for the research said first aid was a 'lost skill' which is seldom attempted before people seek emergency care for common injuries such as sprains and lacerations.

The authors suggest that first aid education could help the public understand when and where to seek urgent health advice and care.

Knowledge and confidence

In particular, it could help people judge whether a condition is serious or minor.

First aid training could also help give the public greater

Giving more people first aid training might help alleviate strain on busy emergency departments (EDs), a new report suggests.


A first aid class practising CPR. Picture: iStock

A review of why people turn to urgent emergency care, conducted on behalf of the British Red Cross Society, found that many members of the public lack confidence in managing minor illnesses and injuries.

Health professionals interviewed for the research said first aid was a 'lost skill' which is seldom attempted before people seek emergency care for common injuries such as sprains and lacerations.

The authors suggest that first aid education could help the public understand when and where to seek urgent health advice and care.

Knowledge and confidence

In particular, it could help people judge whether a condition is serious or minor.

First aid training could also help give the public greater knowledge and confidence to use over-the-counter medicines to self-manage minor illnesses and injuries at home, according to researchers from the University of the West of England in Bristol and the University of Bristol.

A poll of 176 people waiting for treatment in EDs found that a third said they sought emergency care because they were worried and didn't know what to do.

Meanwhile, focus groups of healthcare staff saw many express sympathy with the public's struggle to assess the severity of illness or injury, and then navigate a complex healthcare system.

Lifetime learning

British Red Cross head of first aid education Joe Mulligan said: 'Clearer public information and first aid education could help people access the right type of care at the right point in time, which could ease some of the pressure on A&E and reduce patient suffering.

'What's worrying is that there is a lot of confusion, with many people unsure how to correctly assess their health issue and unable to navigate the health system accordingly. The research shows that patients are seeking advice before attending A&E, highlighting how difficult it is for people to work out which service best suits their needs.

'Ultimately we would like everyone to have the opportunity to learn first aid at key stages throughout their lives, starting at school. This would help to equip a generation of people with the first aid skills they need to help in an emergency.'


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