Dame Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport and former Minister at the Department of Health & Social Care, has hosted an event on Parliament to call for VAT to be removed from sales of defibrillators.
The event, hosted alongside the British Healthcare Trades Association, allowed Members of Parliament and Peers to learn how to use defibrillators and access data on the distribution of these life-saving devices in their constituencies.
Statistics show that chances of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are as low as 8%. Where a defibrillator can be used in the first few minutes following a cardiac arrest, survival rates increase to 70%. Ensuring accessibility to defibrillators throughout the community is therefore essential to increasing survivability of heart attacks.
Defibrillator units can cost between £800 and £2500, and a 20% VAT charge is currently applied. Caroline has called for the VAT to be removed, saving up to £500 per unit. Where defibrillators are currently unaffordable to community groups and small businesses, a reduction in cost will widen access to defibrillators and save lives.
The event gave MPs and Peers the opportunity to meet 19 year-old Jack Hurley, who suffered a heart attack whilst playing football. His life was saved due to quick access to a defibrillator installed at the football ground. However, all too many sports facilities and other community groups do not have defibrillators installed due to their prohibitive cost.
Speaking after the event, Caroline said:
“We know just how important defibrillators are to increase survival chances of heart attacks, and yet their high cost reduces their accessibility in Gosport and communities across the country.
“Heart attacks do not discriminate and affect people young and old. I am calling on the government to remove VAT on defibrillator units, reducing their cost by up to £500.
“This will help small business, sports clubs and community organisations to install a defibrillator in their facilities, increasing the chances that you will be close to a defibrillator if you ever need one.
“This really will save lives.”