Teaching first aid to every child aged five and upwards, could "save the public purse a small fortune", an MP has said.
Sir Bob Russell MP, chair of the newly created first aid all-party parliamentary group, said that as well as saving lives, making first aid an integral part of the national curriculum, could also remove unnecessary pressures on Accident and Emergency departments up and down the country.
Russell was speaking at the launch of the British Red Cross' campaign, 'Pupil, Citizen, Life-saver – Building resilience through education' to ensure first aid and humanitarian education become part of the national curriculum.
Somewhat of a champion on the issue, Russell first called for first aid to become part of the national curriculum, in 2003, when he introduced a ten minute rule motion on the issue.
This latest campaign has been timed to coincide with the Department for Education's National Curriculum Review. This move is deemed necessary by campaigners as currently only 18 per cent of schools teach first aid in some form.
Schools that have taken an active approach to put first aid on the school curriculum were present at the launch.
St Margaret's Junior School in Rainham Kent has taken a holistic approach to teaching first aid, with pupils of all ages learning the essential skills.
Pupils from Petchey Academy in Hackney, London have been learning and teaching first aid through a 'peer education programme' since 2006.
Older pupils learn first aid, and then alongside a British Red Cross trainer, they use the skills they have learnt to educate all year seven pupils starting at the school.
Sir Nicholas Young, chief executive of the British Red Cross said "too few people have basic first aid skills".
Currently just seven per cent of the UK population can correctly recall first aid advice.
Research conducted by the British Red Cross confirms the support for first aid teaching to be made part of the national curriculum with 83 per cent of teachers and 98 per cent of parents wanting their children to learn basic life-saving skills in school.
With its life-saving and humanitarian education programmes, the British Red Cross reaches nearly 400,000 children and young people each year. However by 2015 they would like to increase the number to 800,000.
Helen Brooking, national partnership co-ordinator for 'Life. Live It', a British Red Cross resource for children age 5-11, said the resources are designed so a teacher that has no prior knowledge of first aid is able to "pick up the resource and teach the class".
For more information please see http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Our-advocacy-work/Pupil-citizen-lifesaver