H&F Council refuses to back defibrillators scheme

shaun-bailey-100x100Some residents may remember that Shaun Bailey was the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith in the 2010 General Election. Unfortunately he didn’t make it but the good news is that this year he was elected a member of the London Assembly and he has already produced an important report about saving lives for Londoners.

He says:

“Placing defibrillators in disused and redundant phone boxes is a fantastic way of getting life-saving devices into highly visible and easily accessible locations.  My research found 10,211 people suffered a cardiac arrest in London in 2014/15 and, despite the London Ambulance Service having some of the best performance ratings in the country, survival rates remain as low as nine per cent.”

The cost would be relatively modest and Hammersmith and Fulham Council has a huge annual Public Health budget of £22.7 million which is overwhelmingly wasted. So I wrote to the Council’s Director of Public Health Mike Robinson proposing that the Council back the scheme:

Mike,
Please advise:
1. Whether your team provides any training in secondary schools for pupils in First Aid and specifically cardiopulmonary resuscitation and using Automated External Defibrillators.

2. Whether there are any plans to fund from your budget the adaption of redundant telephone boxes in Hammersmith and Fulham for defibrillators. I gather BT offer a scheme of selling the phone box for a pound and the cost of installing the defibrillator is around £1,000.

My questions were prompted by reading this report which provides more
background:
http://glaconservatives.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Never-miss-a-beat.pdf

Best wishes,
Harry

The reply I got was as follows:

Dear Cllr Phibbs,

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the potential use of public health budget to support initiatives for increasing the availability of and the training in the use of defibrillators in community settings.

Although this is clearly an initiative that has been found to have some benefit in aiding in the acute response to cardiac arrests, and is something that has had recent Government support as well as from organisations such as the British Heart Foundation, available public health budget is currently targeted where possible on primary prevention and not for acute response.

Therefore, in response to your questions:

1.This is not something the public health budget is currently used to support and therefore no public health funded initiatives currently take place that support or provide training in secondary schools for pupils in First Aid and specifically cardiopulmonary resuscitation and using Automated External Defibrillators.

2.There are currently no plans to use the public health budget to fund the adaptation of redundant telephone boxes in Hammersmith and Fulham for defibrillators.

Please let me know if you would like to discuss further.

Regards

Mike Robinson

A very disappointing response. Really just a policy of inertia. The challenge should be for the £22.7 million to save as many lives as possible. But the Council just leaves the bureaucrats to drift along while the councillors supposedly in charge collect their allowances. A terrible failure of leadership.

2 thoughts on “H&F Council refuses to back defibrillators scheme

  1. Well done to Shaun for taking a detailed look at this important issue. For the first time yesterday I noticed a defibrillator at North Acton underground station, housed in a yellow box a little bigger than an old-fashioned biscuit tin.

    Obviously we need more of these and we need more people trained to use them in an emergency. But I don’t agree with putting them in phone boxes. In 2016 these truly are all redundant and should be removed from London’s streets altogether, Most are having a unfortunate second life as advertising hoardings and urinals but just need be consigned to history.

    Defibrillators are quite neat and compact and there are many places they could be situated in an urban environment: stations obviously, but also bus shelters, shopping malls, inside the foyers of large buildings and so on. Very visible but not instrusive.

    Second, this is probably an initiative that needs to be led at city hall level, perhaps even national level, with parallel initiatives around training and public awareness, rather than individual boroughs taking differing ad-hoc approaches.

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