Defibrillators fear as YAS funding ends

The Yorkshire Ambulance Service is withdrawing support for community defibrillators.
The Yorkshire Ambulance Service is withdrawing support for community defibrillators.

Life-saving defibrillators in the East Riding area are under threat after the region’s ambulance service announced it was stopping funding the equipment.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) has written to 100 parish councils and businesses that were given defibrillators, which can save lives in cases of sudden cardiac arrest, in 2014.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service says it has "no obligation" to continue to maintain 100 defibrillators given to communities in 2014.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service says it has "no obligation" to continue to maintain 100 defibrillators given to communities in 2014.

A letter from the head of community resilience, Paul Stevens, said YAS expects parish councils or the local community to pick up responsibility and costs.

The letter states: “There is no obligation for YAS to continue to maintain these devices and I must inform you that we are no longer in a position to do so.

“We must standardise our arrangements across the county and with over 1,200 defibrillators logged into our Ambulance Control systems it is not feasible for YAS to maintain the cost of all these devices.”

The letter said YAS would “happily” hand over ownership to parish councils or communities. The costs include replacing batteries for £198 and cabinets for £478, while optional familiarisation sessions cost £200.

Councillor Jonathan Owen, the East Riding Health and Wellbeing Board’s chairman, and fellow board member Cllr Jane Evison said they were “very concerned”.

Coun Owen said: “Having been so supportive of providing this service to communities, I am amazed YAS are withdrawing their support for a service that must be perceived as a great life saving support to local communities when they haven’t the resource to respond rapidly in our rural areas through the normal 999 service.

“We will use whatever means we can to raise concerns and ask them to re-consider as this must be a false economy.”

Coun Evison added: ”It is difficult to understand how YAS can justify withdrawing a service to a rural community when response times are still not satisfactory. I am extremely disappointed that they wish to withdraw their support and pass the responsibility to often small parish councils and local communities.”

Defibrillators deliver an electrical current through the chest which aims to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm allowing it to pump again. The devices used in the community - automatic external defibrillators - are designed to be simple to use for the layperson.

YAS said the vast majority of community public access defibrillators were maintained by the local community.

Emma Scott, community resilience manager said: “Unfortunately, it is not feasible for us to cover the cost and maintain of all these devices.

“The 100 communities affected by the transfer of responsibility have been offered a new cabinet, along with a new battery and new electrodes for their defibrillator, free of charge.

“We also have a new CPAD co-ordinator who can provide guidance and ongoing support to communities whenever they need it.”