Press release: Critical care specialist calls for CPR to be added to school curriculum 'without delay'


A critical care specialist has called for resuscitation training to be added to the school curriculum "without delay" to help save more lives across the UK.

Dawn Hargraves, a resuscitation officer at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) “should be viewed as a life skill” which is “embedded from the outset”.

She spoke out ahead of Restart a Heart Day tomorrow (Tuesday), which is being used to highlight the issue and urged the government to “get behind” training for children in full-time education now.

“Unfortunately, as a nation, we have never put enough emphasis on the importance of CPR,” she said, speaking on behalf of the resuscitation services department. “It should be viewed as a life skill as it could be required at any time and in any situation, not just in hospitals.

“That is a feeling shared by clinicians in resuscitation services, emergency departments, intensive care units and across all emergency services as we all see the devastating results of CPR not being started by a bystander – it is a topic we all feel very passionate about.

“However, the government hasn’t got behind CPR training for children in full-time education early enough as it has not been a mandatory requirement on the curriculum and that is a big problem.

"Schools have been able to change their own curriculum but that could often allow two hours per year to do training, if that, which is not adequate. The government launched a consultation only this year, but the need has always been overwhelming – so we want to see it introduced without delay."

Restart a Heart Day, led in the UK by the Resuscitation Council, is a designated yearly day of action with the aim to teach vital life-saving CPR skills to as many people as possible, with 2018 the first year the campaign has gone global with the aim of training 200,000 people.

Ms Hargraves, who is based in the critical care team at UHS, said the lack of structured training in schools, as well as colleges and universities, had also “bred a culture of apathy” among adults.

“If we can embed CPR in society from the outset then we will see a change in approach, if we don’t then we have to look to utilise the tools we already have at our disposal and improve their effectiveness.

“For example, courses need to be more widely available and better-publicised, we need to utilise technology through smartphone and tablet apps and get the media focusing on success stories more regularly.”

Ms Hargraves said the survival rate for a person who has suffered a cardiac arrest – when the heart stops pumping blood around the body – decreases by 10% every minute they don’t receive CPR.

“The statistics demonstrate the significant impact of non-action – lives that could be saved are put at much greater risk and, in the worst cases, it proves fatal,” she said.

“We will use Restart a Heart Day to show as many people as possible that something relatively simple can help to save someone’s life.”

Ms Hargraves and her colleagues, in collaborations with South Central Ambulance Service and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, will hold CPR training for all visitors in the main entrance of Southampton General Hospital tomorrow (Tuesday) from 10am.

For more information on Restart a Heart Day, visit

Posted on Monday 15 October 2018