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Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services

First published:
15 October 2021
Last updated:

On 16 October, we mark Restart a Heart Day. Save a Life Cymru and its partners will be encouraging us to learn more about life-saving CPR and using defibrillators.

I want to use this opportunity to provide Members with an update about progress to implement the Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Plan and Save a Life Cymru’s work.

The Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Plan was launched in 2017 and we provided £586,000 to establish the Save a Life Cymru partnership. The plan was developed in partnership with the Wales Cardiac Network, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust and the third sector to improve out-of-hospital cardiac arrest outcomes in Wales.

Save a Life Cymru is a valuable partnership that brings together organisations across Wales to help develop the Welsh public’s CPR and defibrillation skills so people feel confident to help if they witness someone experiencing an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. This year, I announced £2.5m for this programme.

Public attitudes towards CPR and defibrillation are overall positive and people are keen to undertake CPR and defibrillation training. Save a Life Cymru partners have continued to offer training throughout the pandemic.

The Touch Someone’s Life campaign was launched in May, to encourage everybody in Wales to learn CPR skills. Please take a few minutes to watch the video as it could help save someone’s life.

Save a Life Cymru is working with a range of organisations so support people of all ages and backgrounds learn CPR and defibrillation skills, including:

  • In 2019-20, the Football Association of Wales funded an expert to teach CPR in secondary schools. Following positive feedback, the two have worked together to broaden the reach of the programme into football academies across Wales.
  • Cardiff University has developed and is funding a model for all medical students who are trained in CPR to train other students. The pilot will start this month and, once evaluated, it is hoped it will be rolled out to other universities.
  • Second-year film students at the University of South Wales have made a short film telling the story of a young man who collapsed on his way home from a night out in Cardiff. His friends saved his life thanks to help of the emergency services which guided them through CPR and the use of a nearby defibrillator.
  • One Voice Wales, which represents 735 community and town councils, will be employing a lead person to co-ordinate CPR and defibrillator activity in communities, including ensuring defibrillators are registered and in good working order.

The placement of defibrillators in communities has historically been decided by those who purchase them. The Wales Cardiac Network, in collaboration with the Welsh Ambulance Service, has plotted the location of all registered defibrillators in Wales. This information, together with data about the location of every out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, indicates that a more strategic view needs to be considered when new defibrillators are purchased.

Save a Life Cymru is recruiting a clinical out-of-hospital cardiac arrest programme manager to develop a framework to oversee the location and management of defibrillators, their use and maintenance and the coordination of CPR training in conjunction with partners. It is also recruiting seven Save a Life Cymru community coordinators.

Communities and organisations which already have defibrillators are being encourage to register them on The Circuit – more than 5,420 are registered. But just under 50% these defibrillators are registered with guardians to make sure there are regular checks on batteries and pads. Save a Life Cymru is providing a £50,000 grant to the Welsh Ambulance Service to reinstate defibrillators currently not fit for use.

On 15 September, I announced a further £500,000 to purchase almost 500 more defibrillators. Community groups and organisations will be able to apply to obtain a device from Save a Life Cymru. Any organisation wishing to apply will be asked to meet a number of access criteria, including:

  • There is currently no defibrillator within 500m of the proposed site;
  • The organisation purchases or fundraises for a heated defibrillator cabinet, which will be installed on an external wall in an area accessible 24/7
  • There is an electricity supply so the defibrillator can be properly maintained;
  • The defibrillator will be available for public use 24/7;
  • The organisation will register the defibrillator on The Circuit database;
  • They will appoint a defibrillator guardian (for regular maintenance)
  • Awareness sessions about CPR/defibrillation skills are held for individuals involved in the organisation/group.

Every second counts when someone goes into cardiac arrest. We can all help raise awareness of the importance of early CPR and defibrillation.