· £1 million fund will increase defibrillators in the community by an estimated 1,000
· Organisations will be invited to bid to place defibrillators in areas most in need
· Successful bidders will be asked to match funding, potentially doubling the number of new defibrillators
The public will have faster access to life-saving defibrillators as the government announces a new £1 million fund to increase the number of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in communities most in need - providing an estimated 1,000 new defibrillators in community spaces across England.
The Department of Health and Social Care will invest the funding through an independent partner in the new year who will manage grant applications from bidding organisations. Those selected will be asked to match the funding they receive fully or partially, potentially doubling the number of new defibrillators created by the fund.
Applicants will also be asked to demonstrate that defibrillators will be placed in areas where they are most needed, such as places with high footfall, vulnerable people, rural areas, or due to the nature of activity at the site.
Examples could include town halls, community centres, local shops, post offices and local parks, to ensure that defibrillators are evenly spread throughout communities and easily accessible if someone is experiencing an unexpected cardiac arrest.
The independent partner managing the fund will be announced in due course and will work with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that new defibrillators in the community are accessible on a 24/7 basis and are equally accessible across England to all social groups.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, said:
I’ve heard extraordinary stories of ordinary people being kept alive thanks to the swift use of a defibrillator on the football pitch, at the gym or in their local community.
We must make sure these life-saving devices are more accessible, with our new £1 million fund expected to place around 1,000 new defibrillators in communities across England.
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.
This fund will help us make sure there are more of these incredible devices in our communities and we save more lives.
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation said:
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.
NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis 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.
The funding is part of the government’s commitment to support the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease and improving access to emergency treatment across England.
Organisations and individuals that acquire defibrillators, or already own them, are urged to register them on The Circuitgt;, a national defibrillator database for ambulance services to quickly identify the nearest device.
The selected partner for the Automated External Defibrillators Fund will be announced in due course.
The Automated External Defibrillators Fund is non-recurring, meaning the Department of Health and Social Care will provide funding for the purchase of defibrillators, but upkeep will be funded by organisations or individuals who receive them.
The Circuit was set up by the NHS, British Heart Foundation (BHF), the Resuscitation Council UK, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives.
State-funded schools in England that do not already have a defibrillator will receive one from the Department for Education over the course of this and next year: Every school will have a life-saving defibrillator by 2022 to 2023.