A new study by St John Ambulance has found that over a third of respondents (34%) would not be likely to provide first aid treatment to a stranger because they would fear being sued.
The research was conducted as part of the consultation into the proposed Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (SARAH) - which aims to protect those who try to save someone's life from litigation if something goes wrong. In its current state, though, the bill adds nothing that isn't already covered in existing legislation.
The new bill's aims are more to influence perception and behaviour, rather than law, and exists solely to convince courts to take into account the intention behind an act that leads to a negligence claim i.e. if someone is trying to help then this should be taken into account. This is, obviously, all common sense - and is a response to the continued press coverage perpetuating the myth of a 'compensation culture' and over-bearing health and safety regulations. Both of which we at Cute Injury strongly contest.
The issue of first aid negligence claims has been sensationalised to such a degree that the UK government feels forced to respond and rush through the SARAH bill - which will have no tangible effect on current legislation.
As the research from St John Ambulance shows that almost two-thirds (63%) of people wouldn't provide first aid as they lack the confidence and skills to do so, perhaps a better use of all the time and money being spent on this bill would be to help educate citizens more about first aid. A sentiment shared by the Chief Executive of St John Ambulance, Sue Killen, who said:
This bill has the potential to encourage more people to offer help in an emergency, but it will have little impact if people don’t have the training and confidence they need to step in and treat someone in urgent need of first aid.
We meet countless people each year whose first aid training has meant they could act quickly, and save a stranger or family member’s life. First aid saves lives. If the government is serious about creating a nation of heroes, they must ensure that every child leaves school with the skills to be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.
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