Government blocks first aid Bill that could save thousands of
lives each year
Charities say decision will cause needless loss of life
St John Ambulance, the British Red Cross and British Heart
Foundation have today declared their disappointment at the
Government’s failure to back a Private Members’ Bill to ensure all
young people are given the opportunity to learn first aid in
secondary schools, despite mass public support.
More than 14,000 people have written to their local MP over the
past two months, urging them to support the Every Child a Lifesaver
campaign, led by the three charities in support of MP Teresa
However, despite swathes of public support and backing from key
bodies such as the PTA UK and the Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK)
the Bill, which went to its first vote in Parliament today, was
talked out by Government backbenchers, meaning it has little chance
of becoming law. Approximately 40 MPs turned up to allow the Bill
to pass through to the next parliamentary stage.
The charities say that the majority of MPs spoke in favour of
the Bill during the debate and the Minister for Childcare and
Education, Sam Gyimah’s comments did positively acknowledge the
importance of emergency first aid skills in helping to save lives.
However the Government ultimately showed a lack of willingness to
mandate training in all secondary schools.
Teresa Pearce, MP for Erith and Thamesmead who is leading the
Bill, said: 'The Ministers comments about an "over prescribed
school curriculum" were largely irrelevant.
'If the Government had taken the time to read the Bill properly
they would have seen that this is not what was proposed. We
appreciate the increasing pressures put on teachers and want to
ensure schools have total flexibility over when and how they teach
first aid - whether that be in PSHE or physical education.
'The most crucial thing is that all children have access to
learn these vital skills so that no child leaves school without the
knowledge or confidence of how to save a life.'
Sue Killen, CEO of St John Ambulance, said: 'We’re frustrated at
today’s result as we believe that the opportunity to learn first
aid shouldn’t be left up to chance. We will continue to campaign
for first aid in schools as parents, teachers and young people all
want it. We can promise the thousands of people who made their
feelings known that this issue hasn’t gone away.'