Image of an expired emergency first aid at work certificate

How long does a first aid certificate last?

Are you a First Aider, or responsible for first aid in your organisation? If so, it's important to know when each of your first aid aid certificates are going to expire.

So how long does a first aid certificate last?

First aiders whose certificates have expired can't be workplace first aiders. Period. It doesn't matter however qualified and knowledgeable they may feel.

So if you don't keep your eye on the ball, you may find yourself without enough first aiders to safely look after all those who are in your care.

It depends...

How long a first aid certificate lasts for really depends on the type of qualification you're talking about. If you're holding a certificate for a regulated first aid course then it'll be every three years. That includes any of the 'at work' series, or a Paediatric first aid course.

Once that date has gone, you can't be a first aider until you've completed your renewal.

For other courses, the validity is usually shorter (between 1 and 1.5 years).

But of course validity is only part of the story. If you're not confident in your skills, it's worth considering a skills refresher, or a renewal. That may be because you haven't used your skills, or simply that you've forgotten them. We'll come on to refresher courses a bit later.

Workplace First Aid Certificates

All of the regulated first aid certificates are valid for 3 years from the date of qualification. These include the:

In each case, if a member of staff wishes to continue to be a first aider, they should complete and pass their course before their existing certificate expires. They can’t be a first aider until they've requalified.

In addition, anyone wishing to extend their full First Aid at Work certificate through attending a 2-day requalification course should ideally do so before their existing 3-day certificate expires. 

Refreshing your First Aid Skills between Renewals

In addition to renewing your certificates every 3 years, the HSE strongly recommends that all first aiders undertake annual refresher training in between full courses.

The idea is that you keep your skills up to date, and improve your ability to recall and perform first aid when it's required.

With good safety practices and a slice of luck, your first aid skills will only be called on very rarely. So a 1/2-day annual refresher can be invaluable in keeping you at the top of your game.

Dental CPR & Medical Emergency Certificate Renewal

Renewal of dental CPR certificates is quite different. The Resuscitation Council (UK) state that "Dental practitioners and other dental healthcare staff should update their knowledge and skills in resuscitation at least annually".

Dental CPR and Medical Emergencies certificates last for 12 months. So they're typically renewed every year. They are part of a dental practitioners' 5-year CPD cycle. In addition, records of training will be included within a practice's CQC inspection.

GP BLS Certificate Renewal

The requirement for the renewal of GP BLS certificates is very similar to those for dental practitioners. Once again, the Resuscitation Council (UK) require that staff should have annual training updates.

However they allow for an amount of local discretion between clinical and non-clinical staff. They state that:

  • "Clinical staff should have at least annual updates", while
  • "Non-clinical staff generally should have annual updates also. However, a local risk assessment may be undertaken to assess the likelihood of them encountering a patient requiring resuscitation".

This doesn't mean that non-clinical staff don't require training; far from it. It's simply that practice staff may decide that non-clinical staff don't require training as often as clinical staff do.

However always bear in mind that, if you rely on non-clinical staff as part of your resuscitation team, to get equipment, call an ambulance, direct other patients or for any other part of your resuscitation chain, they will need regular training too. Your process as a whole is always only as strong as its weakest link.

So our recommendation would remain, unless there's a good reason to do otherwise, run your BLS training for your entire practice team annually.

For Schools, Nurseries and Colleges

Renewing Regulated (RQF) First Aid Qualifications

Most first aid certificates for schools and other educational settings last for 3 years, following the same rules as other workplaces. They include Paediatric first aid courses (both the in-person and blended versions) as well as the regular first aid at work series of courses.

Other Course Certificates

How often you renew certificates for other education-focused courses depends very much on the requirements of your setting, your risk assessment and the decisions of your leadership team. You also need to take into account the number of pupils (and / or staff) who are affected by any of the conditions.

Examples of the courses you should be thinking about are:

We'd recommend renewing their certification at least every 2-3 years. How often you decide will depend on the numbers of pupils or staff who are affected by the range of conditions covered by the courses. During those 2-3 years, you should also take into account whether you need to train new staff to replace skills that have been lost as trained staff leave.

First Aid for Mental Health

First Aid for Mental Health certificates last for 3 years, having now been brought in line with the other RQF qualifications listed above.

Many of the Awarding Organisations for these qualifications also recommend taking an annual refresher course to keep your skills current, in the years between redoing your full course.

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