Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Defibbing the Health Service

There is always tension between competing ends of a spectrum. Between public and private, global and local, representation and reality. And so it is between centralisation and distribution. Often these things fluctuate, not sure where the happy medium lies.

Our local health services have, in recent years, been centralised and the trend appears to be continuing. Major traumas go to the London Hospital in Whitechapel, often by air ambulance. Our Stroke unit is in Homerton and the chest and heart unit which was in Bethnal Green is now located at St Bartholomews in Smithfield. Did you know it had changed? I didn’t until I just looked it up to check. However, the drive to centralise local Accident & Emergency services appears to be more problematic, notwithstanding that the conditions mentioned above go somewhere else anyway.

The idea is to concentrate expertise and equipment and, we are lead to believe, improves patient outcomes. I can’t argue with that but it does make life for visiting relatives a bit of a pain, but they’re not ill. They may be old and not very mobile, but that’s not the same is it? The other factor which people worry about is the time it takes to get to a unit that is further away than it otherwise would be. The counter to this is that paramedics can be on the scene very quickly (via motorbikes) with the necessary mobile equipment to stabilize the patient before being taken at a leisurely pace by an ambulance to the centre of excellence.

And so we come to the distributive side of the equation of which there are two current initiatives.

The first is a drive to teach first aid in schools – every child a life saver. Well, this is so bleedin' obvious it’s beyond words. And what about the rest of us adults. Would you know what to do in an emergency?

The second relates to the title of this post – defibs. A defibrillator. The British Heart Foundation has got £1million from the Department of Health to make public access defibrillators and CPR training more widely available in communities across England. Sudden cardiac arrest is the biggest killer in the UK today, even with paramedics who can get to the scene on a motorbike much faster than an ambulance. So, having these babies out in our communities with people trained to use them seems to be a pretty good idea.

There is also AEDdonate. This is a charity based in the midlands who help local communities, schools, parish councils and clubs with crowdfunding to place Defibrillators (AED’s) within them.

Kevin Turner explains: “At present in the UK just 8.6% of people who have a Cardiac Arrest outside of hospitals are saved in time, this is because there are simply not enough AED’s out there. Other countries such as Holland 21% and Norway 25% are way ahead of us. As cardiac arrest is the UK’s biggest killer AEDdonate is on a mission to increase the UK survival rate.”

If you want to take part and can see this as a value to your local School, Community or Club, then please call AEDdonate directly on 01785 472224 or you can email Kevin Turner

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