Resuscitation Council tackles inequalities in CPR training and access

The Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) is campaigning to end inequalities in resuscitation across the UK, including disparities in CPR training and access to life-saving defibrillators.

The RCUK is campaigning for more widespread CPR training and awareness and more equitable access to defibrillators to help save livesThe RCUK recently published a report, Every Second Counts: Tackling inequalities in resuscitation, which examines inequalities in resuscitation which affect an individual’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest, and includes recommendations on how to close the inequality gap.

The report found the following:

  • More than a third (38%) of UK adults have never undertaken any form of CPR training
  • Almost 6 in 10 (59%) people from ethnic minority groups said they lacked CPR skills and knowledge, with only 22% having received any form of CPR training within the last decade
  • Over half (57%) of people from ethnic minority backgrounds report some experience of heart-related health problems, and nearly a third (32%) have had first or second-hand experience of cardiac arrest
  • People from lower socio-economic backgrounds are also less likely to be trained in CPR, and less confident to perform CPR

Language, culture and socio-economic factors are thought to contribute to these inequalities, with the national expert on resuscitation explaining:

“If you live in some of the poorest parts of the UK, or come from a particular ethnic minority group, you may be less likely to survive a cardiac arrest. This is not acceptable.

“The UK lags behind other countries in CPR awareness and currently less than 1 in 10 survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Simple, life-saving skills and confidence aren’t yet as widespread as they can and must be to save more lives.

“To address inequalities in resuscitation, we must focus on those who are most likely to have a cardiac arrest, and least likely to know what to do if they witness someone who has collapsed and is not breathing.”

They pledge to make cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) a mechanism for reducing social inequalities, “not another measure of them”, by 2030.

RCUK pushes to make CPR training more widespread

The RCUK says that not enough people currently undergo CPR training in the Uk, and recommend training becomes part of the driving licence test and a core part of the school curriculum for all studentsIn compiling the Every Second Counts report, the RCUK gathered important evidence of UK research on inequalities in resuscitation and listened to people affected by inequality in cardiac arrest. They also commissioned research to understand the views and expectations of people from different ethnic minority groups in England.

The report highlights many innovative community, policy and public health initiatives led by key partners across the UK.

The RCUK’s key recommendations to close the resuscitation gap include:

  • New legislation to make CPR training a mandatory part of driving licence tests. This is already the case in nearly half of the countries in Europe
  • Collaboration between governments to fund a public awareness campaign during ‘Restart a Heart‘ month in October, particularly targeting cardiac arrest hotspot areas
  • Increase bystander CPR rates by ensuring all students receive CPR training in schools
  • Continue to collect ‘out-of-hospital cardiac arrest’ (OHCA) data to inform national strategy
  • Prioritise public access to life-saving defibrillators in locations with high cardiac arrest incidences
  • Requiring all defibrillators to be registered on The Circuit, ensuring they are known and accessible to the public
  • Partnership between the RCUK and the Northern Ireland Executive to establish ‘Save a Life Northern Ireland’
  • Providing targeted CPR training and resources for underrepresented occupational groups, such as jobseekers, for example through online ‘Lifesaver’ training

Access to defibrillators and CPR training can reduce health inequalities

Greater public access to defibrillators in key areas can help improve survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrestImproving equal public access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs or defibrillators) is a key priority because early defibrillation can more than double cardiac arrest survival rates. Meanwhile, statistics show that, for every minute that a person in cardiac arrest doesn’t receive CPR and defibrillation, their chances of survival drop by up to 10%.

Currently, though, defibrillators are distinctly lacking in locations where people from ethnic minority backgrounds live.

Over half (56%) of these areas have no defibrillators available, compared to 31% of areas where predominantly white British people live. In addition, almost half (44%) of the most deprived areas in the UK have no defibrillator registered on The Circuit.

More CPR training and information is needed to improve bystander CPR knowledge across the UKStatistics also suggest that people from low socio-economic backgrounds may be less likely to receive bystander CPR during a cardiac arrest. Coupled with a lack of defibrillators in deprived areas and this could mean they are ultimately less likely to survive.

Older adults and women are also less likely to receive prompt CPR from a bystander during a cardiac arrest when compared with younger adults and men.

The RCUK wants to increase bystander CPR skills across the UK but says that strategies to achieve this must ensure that resources are tailored to people from different minority ethnic groups, where English is not the primary language and where disparities in technology literacy and digital access may exist.

In the report’s conclusion, the RCUK states:

“At present, there is a clear social gradient in cardiovascular disease mortality, with more deprived areas across the UK and different ethnic groups experiencing higher mortality rates and therefore more likely to have a cardiac arrest. There is an urgent need for a UK government strategy to reduce the health inequalities that contribute to our low survival rates. We can, and we must, do better.

“Creating a CPR-trained society will save more lives, improve public health, and enhance community resilience during emergencies. A modest, but carefully targeted investment of public funds in partnership with NFP partners would deliver a significant increase in survival and positive outcomes and transform the UK into a world leader.”

Community grant scheme helps boost CPR training and awareness

In May, the RCUK launched its Community Grant Scheme to help increase cardiac arrest survival rates across the UK.

The scheme will provide small community grants to help organisations, community and faith groups to organise CPR training and awareness events in the run up to Restart a Heart month in October.

The Community Grant Scheme will be targeted at hotspot areas in the UK where bystander CPR rates are lower than the average and cardiac arrest incidences are higher than the average.

James Cant, CEO at RCUK, said the charity wanted to address inequalities in resuscitation and urged organisations in underserved communities to apply for the grant. He added:

“Increasing CPR knowledge and training in the community is an effective way to give people everywhere an equal chance of surviving a cardiac arrest.”

Learn essential life-saving skills

CPR training is key to saving more lives says the RCUKFirst Response Training is a leading national training provider.

They deliver a wide range of training in health, safetyfirst aidfire safetyfood safetyhealth and social caremental health and welfare and other special focus topics for all industry sectors.

They have over 25 years’ experience in delivering first class first aid training services, including First Aid at WorkEmergency First Aid at WorkPaediatric First Aid and Basic Life Support courses, all of which include CPR training and information and training on the use of defibrillators.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Defibrillators should be made easily accessible to all, as they really can save lives.

“Although you do not need training to use a defibrillator successfully, it’s good to be familiar with one and how they work, and our courses cover this and include AED training models.

“However, you never know if one of these life-saving machines will be available. It’s therefore vitally important for as many people as possible to learn essential life-saving CPR skills and other first aid techniques so that they can act quickly and help people in an emergency. First aid training really is so valuable.”

You can check the location of your nearest defibrillator online.

If you are a defibrillator guardian, make sure you register it online with The Circuit – the National Defibrillator Network.

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to