Do schools need medical cover?

We are often asked whether schools need medical cover for sports matches and other events.

The basic guidance is that under health and safety regulations employers must ensure adequate cover is in place by carrying out a full medical risk assessment.

It would be fair to say that having oxygen available should be a minimum standard for sports where there is a high risk of loss of consciousness such as contact rugby. It is becoming standard practise to have outside contractors brought in to the ensure adequate cover at all times with ambulance provision and where necessary paramedic cover on site.

Doctor and nurse cover is often inappropriate as the skills required are more specifically pre-hospital skills, furthermore basic first aiders lack the ability to carry out proper patient assessments. Having medical help on scene helps protect the school from litigation, but also makes for a much safer environment for everyone. Even a small kick to the head can be enough to cause a serious life threatening brain injury.

Some event organisers tell us if anything bad happens a 999 ambulance is just a couple of minutes away. Unfortunately, anyone reading the press will be aware that often that isn’t the case. We often wait well-over 30 minutes for category A requests.

Like many private medical firms we provide regular cover for some schools, usually we cover all of the home matches as these tend to be at greatest risk as children play harder. The also carry the highest risk of litigation particularly as other schools invest in fully fled ambulance cover. If a visiting child didn’t receive adequate care, the school could risk both legal and criminal proceedings against them should they not have taken all the precautions.

The final area of regulation covers the events industry. The purple guide clearly states that event organisers must hire a competent medical provider to meet the needs of the medical risk assessment and ambulance/medical/first aid resource assessment. Irrespective of the event size a medical plan should also be in place which should include:

  • The name and roles of the provider(s)

  • The skill mix of staff, with numbers of each

  • Start and finish times of the cover

  • The name of the medical manager, their contact details and other relevant contact information

  • The intended receiving hospital(s) for casualties from the event, along with confirmation that they have been advised of the event (if appropriate)

  • Specific variations and considerations

This applies to any public events which are put on. We have lots of  questions as to what constitutes an event. We usually say that if the event is open to the public or an events license or permit has been obtained then the activity certainly constitutes and event. Activities which may require an events permit include: selling alcohol, raffles, lotteries or race nights, and providing entertainment – more details can be found on the website.

Dave Hawkins