First Aid in Primary Care GP/Medical Practices

First Aid in Primary Care GP/Medical Practices

The legal requirements in respect of First Aid provision in the workplace are the same for GP/Medical practices as they are for any other workplace.


The practice have to have appropriate numbers of properly trained and appointed first aiders. To decide what is appropriate for their business/practice they must undertake a First Aid Needs Assessment. It is always preferable to have over-provision of first aiders to under-provision. This ensures cover at all times especially when there are unforeseen circumstances or absences of First Aiders. There is also the need to have cover to deal with planned holidays, non working days, lunch breaks and other absence.


First Aid cover is the same as Fire Warden cover, it has to be provided for the entire time the practice is operational and has any staff at work. This includes extended opening times, lunch breaks and after/before work when they may not have patients in but paperwork and reports and being processed.


There are two recognised qualifications for workplace first aiders the First Aid at Work Course (FAW) which takes 3 days, the Emergency First Aid at Work course (EFAW) which takes 1 day. Both qualifications last for three years. In addition, if hazards for which additional first-aid skills are necessary exist (an example may be Cryosurgery), first aiders trained in the specific emergency action and treatment will be necessary. In deciding whether staff attend the 3 day or 1 day it is necessary to consider the nature of illnesses and injuries that first aiders will be required to deal with and the remoteness from and time for emergency medical services (ambulance service) to attend.


Doctors, Nurses and Paramedics can fulfil the role of First Aider in the workplace (as they are suitably trained) without the need to hold an FAW or EFAW, if they meet the following criteria and provided they can demonstrate current knowledge and skills in first aid:

  • Doctors registered and licenced with the General Medical Council, Nurses registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Paramedics registered with the Health and Care Professions Council


Doctors, Nurses and Paramedics must also be able to meet the following criteria to be able to effectively carry out their role:

  • They have to be current in first aid techniques/experience (not just up to date on BLS)
  • They have to agree to do the role
  • They have to be formally appointed and appear on the list of published practice first aiders,
  • They have to be available to render emergency first aid without delay when it is required (this may not be possible if they are undertaking minor surgery or they are out of the practice for meetings or undertaking house visits).


We would suggest that practices cannot solely rely on Doctors, Nurses and Paramedics within the practice to provide this role if they are not available for periods during the day such as when they are out doing house visits, or at meetings, or if they are doing consultations or activities such minor surgery where they cannot provide first aid immediately without delay.


The issue of Doctors and Nurses etc being current with First Aid often arises as many feel they are not up to date with current thinking and protocols in emergency First Aid treatment, when compared to members of staff who have attended a recent FAW or EFAW first aid course. So this needs to be considered rather than making an assumption that all Doctors and Nurses can be First Aiders.


It would therefore be reasonable to expect in most practices the resourcing of First Aid will come from a mix of administrative/management staff who have attended workplace first aid courses (EFAW or FAW) and some doctors, nurses or paramedics who have the current knowledge and skills in first aid and are willing to be part of the first aid team.


In terms of suitable providers for first aid training we would always recommend a company who provides formal first aid qualifications that are on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) through and Awarding Organisation (AO) who are regulated by OFQUAL. Courses from these providers are formal qualifications delivered to a national standard. They will define their courses as:


  • Level 3 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW)
  • Level 3 Award in First Aid at Work (FAW)


If in doubt asking if the provider runs a Training Centre registered with and Awarding Organisation regulated by OFQUAL.


As well as trained First Aiders practices also need to meet other first aid requirements in terms of adequate numbers of appropriate first aid kits and other first aid facilities.


If any practices have any questions on First Aid provision or any other Health and Safety, Fire Safety, Security or Safeguarding issues please do not hesitate to get them to get in touch with me on 01305 769969 or

About Gary Hepburn

Gary Hepburn is Managing Director of Sirius Business Services Ltd who are approved suppliers of the Practice Index and offer, Basic Life Support, AED and Anaphylaxis, Fire Safety and Health & Safety consultancy and training to GP Practices, Dental Practices and Private Hospitals. Visit their page on The Practice Index. Gary is happy to discuss any issues, or concerns Practice Managers may have with existing providers, or to give advice on how the standard of training can be checked, email him at or Telephone 01305 769969

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