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Friday, June 18, 1999 Published at 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK


'Nurses' first aid skills declining'

Nurses are nervous of giving first aid, says a report

Changes in nurse training may mean many do not have the confidence to carry out first aid on accident victims, says a report.

The study, in the Nursing Times, suggests that nursing schools give training in basic life support in hospitals, but neglect to pass on skills which could save a life in the street.

And a spokesman for the St John Ambulance Service, which provides first-aiders for thousands of public events every year, agrees.

Nurses do not have to help

Linda Allen, nursing services manager, told the BBC: "There is no legal duty for any nurses to perform first aid but there is a public expectation.

"We wouldn't say they can't perform, but first aid training is no longer mandatory.

"The majority work in clinical situations where everything is on hand. You ring a bell and another professional that has exactly the right type of experience will come running.

[ image: Nurses can be called on to help at the scene of accidents]
Nurses can be called on to help at the scene of accidents
"But you could be first at a road traffic accident where you have got to know how to manage the incident and do lifesaving skills as well."

The Nursing Times reports that some nursing schools still teach first aid, while others, like City University, do not.

The report says: "This leads to wide disparities in both the breadth and depth of first aid training."

Deborah Glover, the newspaper's clinical editor, herself a trained nurse, said that the main problem was lack of confidence among nurses.

She said: "They actually aren't used to it - we get very little first aid training.

"Within a controlled environment we feel very safe, but once you're out there, you may have your uniform on, and the public expects it.

'Nurses have reservations about helping'

"I wouldn't say they can't perform but they may have some reservations about coming forward."

But Liz Jenkins, from the Royal College of Nursing, said that while it was natural for anyone to feel nervous in an emergency situation, basic nurse training covered many eventualities.

She said: "A lot of it is common sense. All nurses know how to resuscitate, all nurses know about major things like airways, breathing and circulation.

"All nurses get that over their training period."

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