A THATCHAM charity has welcomed a government pledge to fund life-saving devices, but said that more money may be needed.
Delivering the Budget last week, the Chancellor George Osborne said that the government would set aside £1m to help buy defibrillators for public places, including schools, and support training in their use to save more lives.
Responding to the announcement, scheme co-ordinator for Heartstart Thatcham, Nick Young, said: “We know it will allow more devices to be placed across the country, which will save lives. In that respect, it is fantastic and welcome news, a positive step in the right direction.”
While saying that he was waiting to hear on the finer details, however, Dr Young said £1m was not a lot of money for the scheme.
He said: “If a unit, that is a defibrillator and cabinet, costs £2,000 for example, that would be an additional 500 defibrillators. It might be more than that, depending on how the funding will actually work.
“The question then is what is the selection criteria for who gets the funding/defibrillator? It certainly will not cover every school in the country. If we are to include training too, then £1m looks rather small.”
He said it was hoped that the government would continue on this positive path while expanding the training of life-saving skills in schools, with other countries having significantly higher survival rates for cardiac arrests.
“What we would like now is to hear that the next government will make it compulsory that all pupils are taught at the minimum CPR and defibrillator use before leaving, if not the full set of emergency life support skills,” he said.
“Heartstart Thatcham is working with schools and other groups to teach these skills and we are about to install our first defibrillator in a school, which has been done by raising our own funds.”
The Budget announcement was also welcomed by the chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, Simon Gillespie.
He said: “This welcome investment will help make more defibrillators available in public places. But if we’re to transform the UK’s poor cardiac arrest survival rates, we need more people to be trained in CPR.
“That’s why we are calling for CPR to be a mandatory part of the secondary school curriculum.
“In parts of the world where CPR is taught in schools survival rates are double those in the UK.”