Justin Tomlinson MP

Justin Tomlinson MP

MP For North Swindon

Swindon Advertiser Column - Defibrillator Roll-out To Schools Will Save Lives

Last week saw Parliament go into recess for the summer, but not before an announcement from the Department for Education on a cause close to my heart – all state-funded schools in England are to have a defibrillator by summer 2023, with over 20,000 being installed by next summer.

Defibrillators have the potential to save the lives of pupils, staff and visitors in schools, with the latest research showing that accessing these devices within 3-5 minutes of a cardiac arrest increases the chance of survival by over 40%. The announcement follows a tireless campaign by the Oliver King Foundation – which was founded by Mark King, who lost his son Oliver at the age of 12 following a cardiac arrest.

Having met with Mark and the Oliver King Foundation to discuss their campaign, the Government has been working with charities and experts, like the British Heart Foundation, to work out the scale of need for defibrillators across English schools. A survey will be shortly going out to all state-funded schools to identify where they are needed, and I encourage all schools to feed in promptly. The government has committed to funding all necessary devices so that every school has at least one on-site, or more for schools with larger sites, so there will be no cost for the schools themselves.

The rollout builds on existing requirements for schools to teach first aid as part of the curriculum, something I campaigned on with the British Heart Foundation to achieve. This rollout will really benefit schools and their local communities, delivering wider access to these life-saving devices and plugging the gaps, giving more schools and local communities access to this vitally important first-aid equipment.

Expanding defibrillator access has been an issue I have passionately campaigned on throughout my Parliamentary career, alongside other measures to improve cardiac arrest survival rates. I am delighted with this latest announcement; this is a move that will save lives.

This week also saw the opening of the new GWH Urgent Treatment Centre. I had the pleasure of visiting the GWH to welcome the latest round of site expansions and meet with the CEO of the GWH NHS Trust, Kevin McNamara. I had a tour of the site to view potential site expansions and the new Urgent Treatment Centre ahead of its opening this week – joining the official UTC ribbon cutting ceremony. I then met with those working in the new OUH Radiotherapy Centre and was shown the exciting work they will be doing. Finally, I met with Kevin McNamara, to discuss issues constituents had raised in the Primary Care Network (which includes GPs).

It was great to be able to visit GWH and see the new Urgent Treatment Centre and OUH Radiotherapy Centre. These projects have been a long time coming and with over £33 million of investment into the site, this will safeguard the level of care GWH can give its patients and future-proof the Trust as Swindon continues to grow.

Finally, I want to say a massive thank you to all the stallholders who supported my annual Summer Activities Fayre and helped make it a great success. If you took the time to swing by and have a look at what is on offer this summer, I hope you found something for your kids to enjoy!

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