Infant First Aid Training for Parents — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:14 pm on 3rd April 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Julie Cooper Julie Cooper Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care) (Community Health) 3:14 pm, 3rd April 2019

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her expertise in that technology, and such things can be used in combination with a class setting and training to support existing knowledge. I agree that, on specific occasions, such technology has an important role.

In terms of treatment, we lack consistency of provision and access. We have already spoken about distances to, and charges for, courses being a barrier for some parents. Shockingly, research by the Red Cross showed that 95% of parents did not know what to do when shown three examples of life-threatening medical emergencies. Surely it is time to ensure that training is available for every parent in every region. I take the point that we ought not to be prescriptive, but in leaving things to local providers, we must ensure that no one falls through the gaps and no parent is missed.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has warned that UK infant mortality levels are among the highest in the developed world. There are many reasons for that, but cuts to local child services, community health projects, and community midwives and health visitors have undoubtedly not helped. It is clearly desirable to ensure that this important provision is adequately funded, but a significant proportion of deaths could be prevented by ensuring that all parents are equipped with important first aid skills.

Of course, a parent first aider is no replacement for a health visitor or paramedic, but they can be the first line of defence when it comes to helping their children live longer and healthier lives. Informed parents can prevent unnecessary trips to the GP and inappropriate hospital admissions, and it is a shame that despite the support that community and parent first aiders provide to the NHS and families, they are barely mentioned in the NHS long-term plan. That is important because if the Secretary of State is serious about making the NHS the best health service in the world, and about having an NHS that promotes health and wellbeing through a focus on prevention, the Government must make first aid in the community a priority. Equipping parents to look after their infants is a good and important step.

Will the Minister take action to ensure that universal first aid training forms part of the antenatal care available to parents? This is about providing families and communities with the skills to step forward in an emergency so that tragedies can be avoided. Learning such skills can be the difference between a life saved and a life lost.