School leavers will be taught basic lifesaving skills under new government plans for health education to be provided in every school.
All secondary school leavers in England will be taught how to administer CPR, the purpose of defibrillators and how to give basic treatment for common injuries.
Damian Hinds, the education secretary, said of the move: “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.
“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, and in the most extreme cases it could potentially save a life.”
In countries that teach CPR in schools, cardiac arrest survival rates are more than double those of Britain.
“There are 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year, and each day people needlessly die because bystanders don’t have the confidence or knowledge to perform CPR and defibrillation."
The British Heart Foundation has said introducing this training in schools could help improve on this - currently in the UK, less than 10% of people who have cardiac arrests while not in hospital survive the incident.
The plan - due to be rolled out in 2020 - is part of the Department for Education’s proposals to improve health, sex and relationships teaching.
Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF, said: “The Department for Education’s plans to introduce CPR on to the curriculum is a decisive moment in the battle to improve cardiac arrest survival rates, following years of campaigning by the BHF and others.
“There are 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year, and each day people needlessly die because bystanders don’t have the confidence or knowledge to perform CPR and defibrillation.
“This is why all schoolchildren should be given the opportunity to learn these skills. Introducing CPR lessons into health education in all state-funded secondary schools is a significant step that promises to improve the odds of survival for countless people.”