‘Heart attacks do not discriminate between young and old’ – Gosport MP calls for VAT to be removed from sales of defibrillators

Dame Caroline Dinenage hosted an event in Parliament to call for VAT to be removed from sales of defibrillators.
Dame Caroline Dinenage with teenager Jack HarleyDame Caroline Dinenage with teenager Jack Harley
Dame Caroline Dinenage with teenager Jack Harley

The Gosport MP and former Minister at the Department of Health & Social Care says such a move would save up to £500 for each of the life-saving units.

Statistics show that chances of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest 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%.

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Ensuring accessibility to defibrillators throughout the community is therefore essential to increasing survivability of heart attacks.

Defibrillator units can cost between £800 and £2,500, and a 20% VAT charge is currently applied.

Where defibrillators are currently unaffordable to community groups and small businesses, a reduction in cost will widen access to them and potentially save lives.

The Republic of Ireland scrapped VAT on defibrillators in January.

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The event gave MPs and Peers the opportunity to meet 19-year-old Jack Hurley, who suffered a heart attack whilst playing football in Leicestershire earlier this year.

His life was saved due to quick access to a defibrillator installed at the ground in North Kilworth. However, many sports facilities and other community groups do not have defibrillators installed due to their prohibitive cost.

Speaking after the event, Dame 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.

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"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.”

David Stockdale, chief executive of the British Healthcare Trades Association, said: “The lifesaving potential of defibrillator is well documented, so it’s astonishing that these vital devices continue to be treated in tax terms as secondary to other medical products and treatments.

“Almost three quarters of cardiac arrests happen in the home or a workplace and half of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are witnessed by a bystander.

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"Despite this, public access defibrillators are used in less than 1 in 10 instances.

"There simply is not enough defibrillators on our streets, in our offices and our community spaces.

"The case for scrapping this ‘heart restart’ tax is irrefutable and it’s high time the Chancellor takes action.”

It has been reported that every day 200 people across the UK suffer a cardiac arrest.