Automated External Defibrillators (Amateur Sports Grounds)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 15th June 2021.

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Photo of Sandesh Gulhane Sandesh Gulhane Conservative

1. To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the disturbing events at Euro 2020, with a player experiencing a cardiac arrest on the pitch, whether it will consider subsidising automated external defibrillator purchases for amateur sports grounds. (S6T-00085)

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

The incident at Euro 2020 is a stark reminder of the importance of prompt cardiopulmonary resuscitation and access to defibrillation to improving a person’s chances of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Our thoughts go out to Christian Eriksen and to his family and teammates. I am sure that I speak for everyone in the chamber and throughout Scotland when I say that we are very relieved that the prompt action that was taken saved his life and that he is now recovering well.

In 2015, the Scottish Government, working with our partners in the Save a Life for Scotland partnership, launched an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest strategy. Since then, more than 640,000 people in Scotland have been trained in the skills that are needed to perform CPR. In 2015, only one in 20 people survived a cardiac arrest; the rate has now increased to one in 10.

In March this year, our Save a Life for Scotland partnership published an updated o ut-of-hospital cardiac arrest strategy, which sets out a number of actions across the chain of survival, including actions to improve bystander CPR and defibrillation rates.

Part of that programme is to ensure mapping, maintenance and accessibility of defibrillators. The provision of life-saving equipment such as defibrillators is the responsibility of individual sporting governing bodies. Sportscotland is working closely with Save a Life for Scotland to share the life-saving skill of CPR throughout community hubs.

Photo of Sandesh Gulhane Sandesh Gulhane Conservative

I join the minister and everyone else in wishing Christian Eriksen and his family a speedy recovery, in my prayers. CPR saved his life. Knowing how to perform CPR saves lives. The more people in Scotland who know how to do CPR the better. I note that the British Heart Foundation has an excellent hands-only CPR resource on the internet.

Although we already heard something about it in the minister’s response, how will the Scottish Government encourage more people to learn CPR and ensure that school leavers who miss training due to Covid receive it? Can we also ensure that it is a course that is put on universally and by public employers?

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

I agree with Sandesh Gulhane that we need to improve people’s awareness of CPR and their confidence in performing it. As I stated, we have by some way surpassed the target that we had; we thought that we would manage to train 500,000 people but, to date, more than 640,790 people have been equipped with CPR skills by the

Save a Life for Scotland partners. Our collective aim is to increase that number to 1 million people by 2026.

Sandesh Gulhane will also be aware that, in 2019, all 32 local authorities committed to a systematic and sustainable model of CPR learning that would result in every secondary school pupil leaving school with CPR skills. I have absolutely no doubt that Covid will have impacted on that for children in the final years leaving school, but I also have great confidence that the particular incident that we are discussing will remind people of, and focus their attention on, the need for absolutely every single one of us to learn CPR, so that if somebody has a cardiac arrest near us, we know to call for help, dial 999 and perform CPR.

Photo of Sandesh Gulhane Sandesh Gulhane Conservative

I will press the minister a little bit on whether we could look to subsidise automatic defibrillators for amateur sports grounds, because their cost is the reason why grounds are not able to provide them. That would help so much, because two in 100,000 competitive athletes between the ages of 14 and 35 per year suffer from such events.

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

Policies on having equipment such as defibrillators are managed by sports’ individual governing bodies, and are likely to be linked to advice from their own medical practitioners. Similarly to governing bodies, Sportscotland does not give local authorities or leisure trusts advice on or provision for life-saving equipment, which would be determined by the individual organisation. It is a slightly complex landscape out there; many clubs use community facilities or schools.

As an excellent first step, which will bear fruit, we have worked with the University of Edinburgh resuscitation research group. It undertook a public-access defibrillator modelling analysis project in 2018, which was funded by the Scottish Government. There will be a data-led analysis of where defibrillators should be located, including consideration of high-risk neighbourhoods.

It is important that there will be a training package alongside distribution of defibrillators to help people to use them. Sandesh Gulhane and I know that they are very straightforward to use and that the defibrillator tells the user what to do, but the training will raise confidence and competence in using defibrillators in the community.

Photo of Jenni Minto Jenni Minto Scottish National Party

Will the Scottish Government consider supporting rural communities by providing centralised purchasing of defibrillators and on-going materials in order to reduce the need for communities to raise funds to cover value added tax?

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

I thank Jenni Minto for that question, which leads on nicely from the question from Dr Gulhane. The recently refreshed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest strategy makes a clear commitment to addressing the inequalities in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest outcomes, including the inequalities that face rural communities. To do that, the

Save a Life for Scotland partnership continues to work closely with communities on co-creating solutions to improve outcomes in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests across Scotland.

Lots of existing charity schemes subsidise the cost of buying defibrillators for communities and organisations. Those schemes often provide training—which is important, as I said—on use and upkeep of defibrillators, and on how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. We also have existing infrastructure and local knowledge to assist communities in effective placement and management of defibrillators. VAT on defibrillators is a matter that is reserved to the United Kingdom Government.