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West Berkshire health officials to consider report on how to get more defibrillators into the district's phoneboxes



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Moves to get more defibrillators in the district’s old phone boxes go before West Berkshire health officials this week.

But a report to the Health and Wellbeing Board, says that most parish councils don't appear to want them in phone boxes as they are difficult and costly to connect to power.

A council officer was tasked with a deep dive study of old phone boxes and their use after the council was told that existing telephone boxes are being offered to the council for free or as little as £1.

Phone Box Defibrillator
Phone Box Defibrillator

Adrian Abbs (Lib Dem, Newbury Wash Common), suggested that ‘telephone boxes make ideal environments to place public access defibrillators due to their existing power and the shelter they offer'.

BT confirmed that 34 telephone kiosks had been adopted across the district – but said it wasn't sure how many housed defibrillators.

The report said the response suggested that there were only two “live” kiosks left within West Berkshire that hadn’t been adopted or removed.

One outside the Post Office in High Street, Hungerford and the other outside the Telephone Exchange in Newbury Street, Lambourn.

As a result, all parish councils in West Berkshire were asked to confirm locations of telephone kiosks, and also identify where the defibrillators are in their areas.

They were also asked if more were needed, and - if so - where to put them. Only 37 of the 63 parish councils responded.

And only three reported that they did not have any defibrillators – Catmore, Tidmarsh with Sulham, and Wokefield.

However, these do not have any major centres of population and none of these indicated a wish to install a defibrillator in their local area.

When asked about phone boxes, 19 parish councils confirmed that they had at least one in their area, while 14 did not have one, and four did not provide this information.

A number of the parish councils indicated that they already had a defibrillator at a nearby location, such as a village hall, so there was no need to use a phone box for this purpose.

Several of the responses indicated that it was difficult and costly to provide power to phone boxes – this is necessary to supply the heater that maintains the required temperature of at least 4-5 degrees throughout the winter period.

Parish councils actively looking to provide additional defibrillators included Inkpen, Pangbourne and Shaw-cum-Donnington.

However, only Inkpen Parish Council indicated that they were looking to utilise a redundant phone box for this purpose.

Communities that are not currently served include Upper Lambourn, West Woodhay, Hamstead Marshall, Marsh Benham, Enborne, Upper Basildon and Lower Basildon.

Officers also identified that there are several databases of defibrillators available on the internet, but most only appear to have partial data sets, and are therefore of limited value, as well as being confusing to members of the public.

The report goes before the Health and Wellbeing Board on Friday (May 20).



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