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Suffolk: MP’s comments anger defibrillator campaigners

PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 February 2013

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey.

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CAMPAIGNERS pushing to get defibrillators installed in every school across the UK have criticised Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey for questioning how the proposal will be funded.

The Oliver King (OK) Foundation, set up after the death of a 12-year-old Liverpool boy from Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (SADS), is calling on the Government to introduce the potentially lifesaving equipment to all public buildings by 2017.

The foundation also wants all people aged between 12 and 35 to be offered a simple ECG test, which could reduce the current death rate from the syndrome of 12 young people a week.

In Liverpool, the city council worked with the head teachers of 122 schools who each allocated £1,000 of their budget to pay for a defibrillator.

The OK foundation contacted Ms Coffey via Twitter and asked her to back an e-petition with 110,614 signatures before the issue is debated in parliament.

But she responded by asking if the foundation would be prepared to pay to install the defibrillators.

Last night, she told the EADT: “The Oliver King Foundation worked with Liverpool City Council and spent £102,000 on placing defibrillators in schools and that’s their choice. There are far more schools in Suffolk and I don’t know if it would be the priority of headteachers in Suffolk to do it that way.

“People often come up with campaigns like this driven by individual incidents, but I think it’s a fair question to ask if they going to help provide money to equip schools with defibrillators and the necessary training, and if they are, I think they could go direct to the schools.”

From February 2007, responsibility for continuing the legacy of the National Defibrillator Programme was devolved to ambulance trusts.

According to a supporter of the OK Foundation, Ann Clark – who contacted the EADT after reading Ms Coffey’s tweets – the cost of maintaining a defibrillator is minimal compared to the potential benefits.

She said: “The batteries last five years and the equipment itself last for 15 years. We want it to be made law to have one in every school because between 12 and 19 young people die from SADS every week in the UK.

“We just found Therese Coffey’s comments quite flippant given the seriousness of the campaign – and the fact that there are 16 defibrillators in the House of Commons.”

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