RCUK welcomes analysis of public access defibrillators across England

RCUK is calling for a more evidence-based and coordinated approach to the placement of public access defibrillators (PADs) across the UK, and for their registration onto The Circuit, following analysis of current provision in England completed by the University of Warwick.

The analysis revealed inequality in where public access defibrillators are located. The analysis found that public access defibrillators are disproportionately lacking in the most deprived areas of England, which are among the communities at the greatest risk of cardiac arrest.

  • Areas with a greater number of defibrillators tend to be more affluent and with high socio-economic occupations, with fewer residents that identify as non-white
  • Only 27.4% of the most deprived areas had at least one defibrillator compared to about 45% in the highest

Sue Hampshire, Director of Clinical and Service Development at Resuscitation Council UK, said:

“A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Not only is defibrillator use a crucial step in the Chain of Survival, the presence of defibrillators in public places can help raise awareness and stimulate people to think about what they would do in an emergency. 

“The findings of this important study show that there currently unacceptable inequalities in the provision and availability of Public Access Defibrillators across England.  Out of hospital cardiac arrests are more likely to happen in the areas with neighbourhood characteristics where AED provision is currently lower. If more lives are going to be saved through CPR and defibrillation, a more evidence-based and coordinated approach to their placement is needed across the UK and we encourage community groups and other organisations to make use of our existing guidance and existing evidence.”

Lead author of the study, Dr Terry Brown from Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, said:

“We know that cardiac arrests occur more often in deprived areas, but registered defibrillators are more likely to be found in areas where the population is more affluent, predominantly identify as white ethnic, and with high socio-economic occupations. The question is whether this is because they’re not registered in more deprived areas, or because there aren’t any?

“We want to get more defibrillators registered. Any future programme that aims to get defibrillators out there should be targeted to the areas that need them most. In particular, they should be put in more deprived communities, and in accessible locations in residential areas given that more than 80% of out of hospital cardiac arrests happen in the home. There should be a more evidence-based distribution programme to ensure they are accessible.

“If they are registered, more easily accessible, and people had the confidence to use them, we believe there will be an improvement in survival rates from cardiac arrest.”

T.P. Brown, G.D. Perkins, C.M. Smith, C.D. Deakin, R. Fothergill, Are there disparities in the location of Automated External Defibrillators in England?, Resuscitation (2021), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resuscitation.2021.10.037

You can also read the University of Warwick’s press release about the research