The public will have faster access to life-saving defibrillators as the Government has announced 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."
Organisations and individuals that acquire defibrillators, or already own them, are urged to register them on The Circuit, a national defibrillator database for ambulance services to quickly identify the nearest device.