Following the Government’s acceptance of the Lofstedt Report, the HSE has now confirmed that the HSE approval system for first aid training providers will end. Our latest article takes a look at the current situation and outlines what is likely to happen over the coming months.
You may be aware that following the Government’s acceptance of the Lofstedt Report, the HSE has now confirmed that the HSE approval system for first aid training providers will end. This will inevitably have a significant impact on the first aid training community and we have already received a large number of queries from concerned training providers. We hope that is information will help to clarify the current position and outline what is likely to happen over the coming months.
For the past 30 years, having HSE approval has allowed independent first aid training providers to illustrate to customers and potential clients that they delivered high quality training to a recognised standard. Without doubt, this has allowed smaller, private training providers to compete with big name brands such as St. John, British Red Cross and St. Andrew’s Ambulance.
The team here at Qualsafe are committed to supporting the first aid training community and our aim is to help our customers succeed. Having recognised the importance of HSE approval, we have actively campaigned to protect training providers for many years. However, in recent years it has become increasingly clear that it was no longer a case of if HSE approval would be removed but when.
Deregulation could potentially open the door for large numbers of low quality first aid training providers to enter the market. Unfortunately, any confusion about standards in the independent sector will hand an advantage to organisations such as St. John and Red Cross, whose brand names are generally trusted by employers. It’s important therefore that genuine, quality training providers, who are about to lose HSE approval, can replace this with something equally as credible.
When is removal of HSE approval likely to happen?
The HSE have key implementation dates of either April or October. Government ministers are keen to show that they are removing red-tape from the Health and Safety arena and want to see the changes sooner rather than later. Although no date has been confirmed as yet, this could ultimately mean that HSE approval is removed as soon as October 2012 and we think it is unlikely to happen any later than April 2013.
HSE Consultation Process
Whilst the decision to end HSE approval has already been made by the Government, a consultation process is being undertaken to look at how this is implemented. Also being looked at is the guidance provided to employers regarding first aid provision.
Adapting to a Deregulated Environment
Having considered the possible ways that we could support our customers, we came to the conclusion that the most beneficial way forward for independent training providers would be a move to Ofqual regulated qualifications. We know that employers and the HSE already have a high level of confidence in Ofqual regulated qualifications, so this option will allow independent training providers to compete effectively with the big name brands.
For this reason we established Qualsafe Awards as an Ofqual Regulated Awarding Organisation. We wanted to make sure that there is an Awarding body that has real expertise in the first aid training sector – one that would do everything possible to support first aid trainers and provide effective, workable methods of accrediting first aid training with minimum bureaucracy.
Registering with an Ofqual Awarding Organisation means that the qualifications you provide are accredited using a Government approved and nationally recognised system.
Importantly, this system is not complicated or expensive. Currently over 2,000 training providers are delivering Emergency First Aid at Work in this way and many of the 1,235 HSE approved training providers already deliver other qualifications using this method.
With the support of HSE, we have been working closely with the other Awarding Organisations to develop the new First Aid at Work qualification. This should seamlessly replace the current qualification and will be ready before the HSE approval system is removed.
What do I need to do now?
Now is a good time to ensure that all your trainer’s records are up to date (including FAW certificates, teaching qualifications, training logs, etc.). These are all things that are already required under HSE approval and will help you to seamlessly transfer over to Awarding Organisation accreditation.
Although the new FAW qualification will not be introduced until later in the year, it is sensible to register as a Centre with an Awarding Organisation in advance. This will ensure that you avoid the rush of applications just before the HSE approval system ends.
I hope that this information is useful for you and that we can support you through these uncertain times.