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Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport

First published:
15 December 2016
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

Restart a Heart Day, on 18 October, was a great success with over 200 volunteers from Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST), Police, Fire Service, Community First Responders and St Johns, as well as staff from health boards assisting to provide Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training in 43 secondary schools across Wales, with over 7,200 secondary school pupils trained.  We would like to congratulate all the schools and pupils who took part and thank all of the volunteers. On 18 October, I attended an event with school children held in the Wales Millennium Centre.

The feedback from the schools and pupils was overwhelmingly positive; 13 schools already had a defibrillator and another 26 indicated they would like to have one. The schools all had the Call Push Rescue equipment from the British Heart Foundation so will be able to continue with the training.  

Throughout October, WAST also ran their Shoctober campaign where the aim was ‘Helping Children Save Lives’, and this was targeted at primary age children across Wales. They were taught life saving skills and empowered to deal with life threatening emergencies. Over 200 schools registered to take part and just over 9,500 children were reached. Children aged between 3 and 7 were taught ‘Teddy CPR’ and those between 8 and 11 were taught CPR on resuscitation dolls. The Cabinet Secretary for Education participated in the launch at Penmaes School in Brecon on 3 October.

We are confident both staff and pupils will continue to be inspired and influence ideas and plans for the future. The Welsh Ambulance Service will adapt Shoctober based on feedback from those schools that participated.

In addition, the Defibuary campaign runs throughout February. It is about raising awareness of symptoms of cardiac arrest and the location of equipment available to the public in a life threatening emergency. Launched this year, Defibuary resulted in over 400 automated external defibrillator (AED) locations being posted on WAST’s social media page, 150 new AED locations were identified with a reach of over 301,000 people. WAST has also engaged directly with over 300 schools across Wales and linked with local communities and organisations to raise awareness of defibrillators and how to use them.

We recognise how effective defibrillators can be and the impact they can make in terms of survival in the event of a cardiac arrest. There are approximately 2,000 defibrillators registered on the NHS Wales Direct website and there is a location map which shows all the locations across Wales: The Welsh Government currently has Public Access Defibrillators (PADs) registered and available at 10 of its offices as well as having Community First Responder teams in Llandrindod Wells, Llandudno Junction and Aberystwyth.

There are also publically accessible AEDs now available on the external walls of all Fire and Rescue Service buildings in North Wales (including all fire stations). South and Mid and West Wales Fire Service have AEDs on all front line appliances. This means that there is an AED at all fire stations in Wales, although not all are available for use by the public. These were purchased with the aid of over £300,000 Welsh Government funding in 2015.

Registered defibrillator sites are also on the WAST Clinical Contact Centre computer systems so they can quickly identify the nearest defibrillator. WAST teams work throughout the year with communities and charities to provide AED familiarisation and CPR training throughout Wales. We would encourage all organisations and communities, if they have not already, to register their AED via the WAST Be a Defib Hero webpage:

WAST is happy to provide advice to any organisation, including community councils, in relation to AEDs and help provide AEDs on a cost price basis. We are aware of the joint work between local fire stations in Mid and West Wales and community councils in the Gower area with over 50 public access AEDs placed across the area.

In response to the Petition’s Committee report on mandatory Welsh legislation to ensure defibrillators in all public places, we reinforced the Welsh Government’s commitment to developing an Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest plan. Work is ongoing with a number of partners including NHS Wales, fire service, education and third sector organisations and we anticipate this will be ready for publication in spring 2017. The plan will cover early recognition of a cardiac arrest, immediate and high quality CPR, early defibrillation and effective post resuscitation care. We anticipate, as part of the ongoing implementation of this plan, further work will be undertaken to map out the organisations which provide CPR training within communities across Wales.

The Welsh Government fully supports raising awareness of, and helping, young people to acquire life saving skills and emergency first aid procedures.

Currently, all learners in Wales can learn about emergency aid procedures through Personal and Social Education (PSE) which forms part of the basic curriculum for all registered pupils in maintained schools. The non-statutory PSE framework for 7 to 19 year olds in Wales is the key document that schools should use in planning their PSE programme to ensure that learners receive a balanced and relevant PSE programme, which may include developing practical life skills such as administering first aid.

Looking to the future, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, has reaffirmed the Welsh Government’s acceptance, in full, of the recommendations of the ‘Successful Futures’ report written by Professor Graham Donaldson. ‘A curriculum for Wales - a curriculum for life’ sets out the timeline for taking these recommendations forward, with a view to the new curriculum to being made available from 2018 and used to support learning and teaching in schools and settings by 2021.

In his report, Professor Donaldson identifies four purposes of education – one of which is that it should support all our children and young people to become healthy, confident individuals.  In addition, his report sets out six Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLE) as central to the structure of the new curriculum, and one of these AoLEs is Health and Well-being.

The design of the new curriculum will be taken forward by a network of Pioneer Schools working in an all-Wales partnership with education experts, Welsh Government, Estyn, Further and Higher Education, business and other key partners. It is their collective expertise that will shape the new curriculum and they will consider evidence for all topics, including developing practical skills for life such as administering first aid. As the new curriculum is developed, Pioneer Schools will also consider the professional learning and support that will enable professionals to fully realise the benefits of the new curriculum.

In Successful Futures, Professor Donaldson identified that the current curriculum has become overloaded and complicated, partly because of the use of legislation.  The review has set out a path for the Welsh Government and recommends that legislation should be used to define a broad set of duties rather than detailed prescription of content. Before introducing any legislative changes to underpin the new curriculum framework, the Welsh Government will consult and provide stakeholders with an opportunity to share their views on our proposals.

We never know when we might come across situations where something needs to be done to help save a family member, friend, neighbour or stranger, by providing these skills and knowledge, we have enabled many children and young people to do something practical and start the chain of survival to give people a chance. We want to ensure these opportunities are available to all communities across Wales.