The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is not required to approve first aid training and qualifications nor provide accreditation, but it does provide a due diligence checklist to help you choose a reputable training provider and ensure you receive quality first aid training.
The Case for Accreditation of First Aid Trainings
Ever since the HSE deregulated (in a manner of speaking) the first aid training market, the number of providers has increased and differentiation has become more difficult. Awarding bodies and accreditation bodies often pitch themselves to first aid training providers as being able to help them overcome the competition. But what is really the case for accreditation?
The story so far
In the past, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approved first aid training providers. Although the title of the course changed over the years (from Appointed Persons First Aid to First Aid at Work, for example), the importance of the HSE’s stamp of approval was a constant and ensured a quality standard in the market.
After 1 October 2013, however, the HSE ceased approving first aid training providers. The argument from the HSE and the government at the time was to allow organisations more flexibility, but it was also part of a wider shift in regulatory practice of moving the obligation on to the organisation itself. It is now the responsibility of organisations to ensure that the training they have received is sufficient and proportionate according to their own risk assessment.
The situation now
The HSE no longer approves first aid training providers. Instead, it has criteria that it recommends organisations look for when choosing a provider. The criteria includes:
- That the trainer has an appropriate qualification
- An organisational quality assurance scheme to monitor training delivery
- Able to produce accurate certificates
- Appropriate course content
Technically, there is nothing that forces organisations to adopt this guidance. The issue only emerges when there is an inspection by either local enforcement agencies or the HSE itself and the organisation must demonstrate that the training is appropriate.
Why is there focus on getting a first aid training accredited?
- Rising above the competition
Deregulation meant that the number of smaller training providers increased. In other words, first aid training has effectively become commoditised, meaning differentiation has become more and more important. Demonstrating that your courses are of a high standard that you are a reputable provider could be the difference between sales growth or slow decline.
- Making clients’ lives easier
Although some organisations will seek shortcuts, many will want to ensure that their staff are trained to suitable standards. A small business owner reading the HSE’s criteria may therefore panic about checking that their chosen providers meets all of the best practice checklist.
An accreditation scheme helps make their life easier. If your training is accredited, it gives comfort to prospective clients and makes choosing you as their provider just that little bit easier.
- The HSE criteria
Unfortunately, incidents do occur and the HSE or other bodies do have to investigate. In those scenarios, the business will need to demonstrate that it chose its first aid training provider in good faith, and the provider will need to show that its product is fit for purpose.
The easiest way to do this is to meet the HSE’s own criteria, which recognises that some providers “operate under voluntary accreditation schemes (including trade/industry bodies)”. Accreditation of first aid training will help with all the HSE’s criteria, but there are two elements of their checklist that it can particularly help with.
- Is there a quality assurance system in place to monitor the quality of training? Many organisations will be too small and too busy to spend vast amounts of time preparing quality policies and carrying out quality visits. An accreditation scheme will either provide that system for you, or help you to put yours in place.
- Is first aid taught in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice? Staying up to date with the guidance issued by bodies such as the HSE and Resuscitation Council UK can be difficult, particularly if you’re working in a market this competitive.
The Case Against Accreditation of First Aid Trainings
- Not Every Course Is Accredited Everywhere
Every accredited course is “unaccredited” somewhere in the world. Just because it’s accredited by one country’s government does not make it globally accredited. Most courses (even Harvard or Oxford degrees), are not formally recognised or accredited by all countries or accrediting bodies.
Accreditation bodies all have a limited purpose or scope of operation. Usually, governments are only concerned with accrediting certain types of courses and within their own jurisdiction; and professional bodies are only concerned with their own members or constituency.
The issue for us at Levande Healthcare is why should we look for accreditation from a foreign body that does not understand our health issues, the myths that surround health and medical emergency challenges and our healthcare system. We need to make our first aid trainings fit for the environment we live in while meeting international guidelines. Nigeria has got to have its standards and that has been our mission from day 1 because it is too important not to.
- Accreditation Is Expensive!
It is costly to obtain, costly to maintain, and those costs often get passed on to the trainees in the form of high training fees. The reason First Aid by Levande’s training costs are what they are is because of this aspect.
- Credibility is what counts!
When choosing a course, the critical questions that must be asked are:
a. “Am I studying with someone credible?”
b. “Will the course give me a valuable education?”
How to tell if a course, degree or training has widespread credibility
Nothing can ever guarantee a courses value 100%, but there are several things that can indicate credibility. Consider the following checklist; the more ‘boxes’ the course ‘ticks’, the more credible it will be:
a. Duration of a course – it stands to reason that you cannot learn as much in a very short course.
b. Quality of staff – consider qualifications, quantity and quality of experience.
c. Services offered – consider how accessible tutors are, what additional services have been developed.
d. How well established is the institution – long established institutions are more likely to be sound.
e. Visibility – an institution that is known widely within a discipline, employs staff that have international reputations and/or is ranked high on internet searches will hold greater international credibility than one that is obscure and known little beyond their own town.
f. Reputation – accreditation, recognition, partnerships and affiliations are indications of the regard held for this institution by other organisations or institutions. These relationships are an indicator, but their value is in turn only as strong as the credibility of the other organisation.
g. Graduate success – satisfied and successful graduates are the most certain indicator of a courses value.
- Every Country is Different
There are in fact thousands of different recognition and accreditation systems around the world, some run by professional industry bodies, some by independent accreditation bodies, and some by governments. Every one of these likes to ‘beat their drum’ and assert that they are the best; but if you look into the issue deeply enough and use a little common sense, you will start to see that accreditation is not the true indicator of credibility.
Many developed countries only tend to formally recognise qualifications accredited by themselves; and don’t readily cater to accrediting qualifications from even leading universities or training centres in other countries. A course or degree that is accredited in the USA is not necessarily going to be accepted formally in Australia or Europe, and vice versa. Nigeria is a different environment with its health and healthcare challenges, we need to have courses and trainings that are suited to where we would use them.
- Accreditation comes at a cost; and sometimes with limited benefits
It costs a lot of money to obtain and retain accreditations; so, the more accredited a course is, the more of your fees are going into the accreditation, and that usually means either the training provider is taking bigger profits; or the training provider is putting less of your fees into actually providing a service.
Accreditation may be critical when dealing with certain disciplines such as law and medicine; where lack of 100% control over the education system can lead to serious problems later on. Without accreditation in such critical industries, a successful career may be impossible to kick start.
It therefore goes without saying that the fact that our First Aid Trainer is a Medical Doctor, licensed to practise medicine in Nigeria and has saved lives over the course of an over 20 year career is a credible person to teach lifesaving skills.
Until Nigeria sets up regulation on First Aid Training within the country, First Aid by Levande follows the HSE and UK guidelines on our trainings which meets and exceeds the set standards (see our quality assurance documentation).
- The minimum qualification for a First Aid Trainer is having an FAW (First Aid at Work) qualification. Registered doctors are exempt.
- First Aid Trainers should have a teaching qualification. Our First Aid Trainer has a L3 Award in Education & Training from the UK.
- The training syllabus for EFAW (Emergency First Aid for the Workplace) should follow the HSE criteria. This we do and exceed.
- The training syllabus for paediatric trainings should be Ofsted compliant (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills is a non-ministerial department of the UK government). Our EPFA (Emergency Paediatric First Aid training) meets and exceeds this.