Public health blueprint proposes national open register of defibrillators
Members of the public will be able to find the nearest life-saving defibrillator with a few clicks of their smartphones under Labour plans for public health. The party said many other countries are putting in more and more of the devices in all major public buildings, adding: "We should do the same."
The opposition also unveiled plans to create a national open register of defibrillators - available via digital applications - to give people "instant information on where to locate the nearest one in an emergency".
The move comes as local councils, schools and other bodies come under growing pressure to obtain the vital technology for victims of cardiac arrest.
Medical experts stress that the sooner a person is shocked with a defibrillator the better their chances of survival.
If a person is shocked within one minute of collapsing their chances could be as high as 90% but, if they are left for more than 10 minutes, it is reduced to just 5%.
Announcing its new public health policy, Labour promised a 'heart-safe' programme, which would:
- Give every child the opportunity of training in the use of defibrillators and in emergency first aid training for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
- Aim to put defibrillators in shopping centres, railway stations, airports and sports stadia - and support local fundraising efforts to provide them to schools and sports clubs.
- Create the national register of defibrillators, available via digital apps.
- Explore a new national screening programme for young people considered to be at highest risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
The document states: "Many countries are moving to increase the availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in major public places and buildings and we should do the same. We need to train as many people as we can - particularly young people - in the skills needed to step in and help in an emergency."
However, the public health blueprint does not commit Labour to any specific funding for the expansion of defibrillators.
Andy Burnham, Labour's health spokesman, said: "This new approach will chart a new course towards a healthy nation in the 21st century."
Pictured: Pharmacy sign | Eva Heinsbroek