Will CPR training be compulsory for students in Wales?

A petition asking for CPR training to be made compulsory in Welsh schools has been put forward for further discussion in the Senedd.

Last year Education minister Kirsty Williams said CPR would not be incorporated into the National Curriculum, instead saying: “There’ll be nothing to stop schools teaching CPR.”

CPR is a form of basic life support involving chest compressions and rescue breaths. It’s compulsory for pupils in England and Scotland to learn, but not for those in Wales.

This simple technique can triple the cardiac arrest survival rate, and with thousands of people in Wales each year suffering from this condition, teaching pupils CPR could save the lives of many.

Without CPR training on the Welsh curriculum, only a fragment of pupils will learn this life saving skill.

The petition was started by 22-year-old medical student Matthew Copp from Swansea who says that introducing CPR into schools will result in up to 1,000 fewer grieving families each year.

He said: “It’s such a simple thing to learn, and the research shows that teaching CPR in schools is one of the most effective ways to improve survival rate from out of hospital cardiac arrest. And to not take simple measures to try to improve the survival rate seems like such a disservice to Welsh citizens.”

Heart attacks and cardiac arrests are serious medical emergencies, and unless patients are treated immediately, they could be fatal.

Every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces the chance of survival by up to 10%.

Rosalyn Donnelly from Cardiff, whose husband died in 2019 from a heart attack, says everybody should know how to do CPR.

“In those few minutes, if people are just standing around because they don’t know what to do, literally in those few minutes you could save a life, and so I wouldn’t want people to be scared of using it because I think it’s better to try and use it than not try at all,” she said.

Cardiff sixth form college is one of the schools that already teaches their pupils CPR.

Mr Tom Arrand, the head of the school says, it’s surprising that CPR training for pupils is not compulsory in Wales. He says that many people are not confident delivering CPR and that’s why it’s important for it to be included in the school curriculum.

He said: “Education is more than simply achieving exam grades; it should be about developing the whole person, and we cover CPR training as part of the personal social health education curriculum in college. We follow the British Red Cross CPR training programme.”

With many schools having few resources of their own to teach CPR, relying on programmes such as the Red Cross or British Heart Foundation, there is still uncertainty about what’s in store for schools.

The Welsh Government says that “life saving skills will be on the new curriculum” and that they will “continue to work with experts to refine the guidance given to these schools.”