At least one thousand new public access defibrillators are to be funded in England to help improve survival rates from cardiac arrest. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it would contribute £1 million to a fund to help ensure that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were spread more evenly throughout communities.
It said that organisations bidding for an AED would be asked to match funding, wholly or in part, with the potential of doubling the number of new defibrillators available for public use. Any organisation which successfully bid for a defibrillator funded with Government money would need to pay for their ongoing upkeep and maintenance.
England's minister of state for care, Helen Whately, said: "We want people to have the best chance of survival from cardiac arrest, and public access to defibrillators is critical to achieving this." She said that the extra money would help "make sure there are more of these incredible devices in our communities, and we save more lives."
Applicants will also be asked to demonstrate that defibrillators will be placed in locations where they are most needed, such as places with high footfall, rural communities, and where vulnerable people live or visit.
An independent partner responsible for managing the fund would be announced "in due course", the DHSC said.
Defibrillators Should be Registered
The Department said all AEDs should be registered at the national defibrillator network, The Circuit, which is run in partnership with the NHS, British Heart Foundation, the Resuscitation Council UK, and the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives.
Sir Stephen Powis, NHS England's national medical director, said: "It is essential that people are equipped with the knowledge, skills and equipment they need to be able to save a life, and access to a defibrillator, along with initial recognition of symptoms, early CPR and post resuscitation care can mean the difference between life and death for a person who is going into cardiac arrest. The NHS is proud to be working with local community partners to champion the importance of learning how to recognise and respond to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, including working with St John Ambulance to recruit a national network of community advocates to encourage more people to learn CPR and lifesaving skills."
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation, commented: "For every minute without CPR or defibrillation, a person's chances of survival from an out of hospital cardiac arrest decreases by 10%, so we welcome this move to improve access to defibrillators in communities across England. We urge anyone who looks after a defibrillator in their community, workplace or sports club to ensure that it is registered on The Circuit so that the ambulance services will know where it is in an emergency."
The Government has previously announced that all state-funded schools in England will receive funded defibrillators by the end of the current academic year.