‘We need more first aiders to cut A&E waits’ - Colchester MP
- Credit: Cpl Obi Igbo
Fewer people would turn up at overstretched accident and emergency departments if more people were trained in first aid, Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has said.
In an opposition day debate on increased pressure on A&E services, the Essex MP said the basic skills would reduce visits by people whose injuries did not warrant hospital attention.
Sir Bob later hit out at comments from shadow health minister Andy Burnham that it was not “going to solve the A and E crisis right here, right now” as an attack on organisations such as St John Ambulance.
In the Commons session shadow health minister Andy Burnham said it was a “laudable aim”.
But he added: “I do not think it is going to solve the A and E crisis right here, right now, but I do not disagree with it as an aim.”
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But Labour’s Ealing North MP Stephen Pound later added: “The prescription of the honourable member for Colchester was risible. The idea that we should lie back with a scalpel in one hand, biting on a bullet and perform our own abdominal surgery was fairly ludicrous. At least, that is how I heard his proposal.”
Sir Bob said he had long been an advocate of first aid training.
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“Mention has been made of an additional one million people going to accident and emergency. The derision I received earlier was an attack on organisations such as St John Ambulance, which trains first aiders, because the simple fact is, as I said when speaking to my ten-minute rule bill ten years ago, that first aiders will reduce visits to overstretched accident and emergency departments by people whose injuries did not warrant hospital attention.”
He added: “We should be getting more first aiders out there. If the last Labour government had listened to that, we would have one million more first aiders.”
Heath secretary Jeremy Hunt backed Sir Bob’s plans on the floor of the House of Commons.
He said: “I welcome all things that can reduce the pressure on A and E, and I am sure that there is a role for increasing knowledge of first aid.”