Call for Defibrillators in Public Places

Posted by admin on June 20, 2013 at 8:55 am. Filed under: Medical Equipment

Defibrillators have been much in the news over the last year. When professional footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch in March last year because of cardiac arrest, it was the quick action of getting a defibrillator into use which was responsible for saving his life. Since then, it seems that there have been numerous similar incidents reported in the news. In fact, it is estimated that around 60,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital every year, with the survival rate being just 8%.

A defibrillator is an important piece of first aid equipment which delivers an electric shock with the aim of jumpstarting the heart back into life. The timely use of a defibrillator on Muamba didn’t just save his life, but it also reduced the chances of him developing brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. Any delay between collapse and the first shock given is the most crucial factor when it comes to determining survival. Prompt use of a defibrillator can give a survival rate of 75%, it has been reported, while with every minute without it, the chances of survival decrease from 7% to 10%.

In March this year, several high profile sporting figures, including Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard, Amir Khan, Ricky Hatton, Michael Owen and Kenny Dalglish, along with the Royal College of Paediatrics and the British Medical Association appealed to the Prime Minister for new legislation to ensure that every public building has access to an automatic external defibrillator (AED). This includes schools, leisure centres and football stadia.

This action came after a government e-petition received over 100,000 signatures following the death of 12-year-old Oliver King, who suffered cardiac arrest while swimming at school. The school’s sports first aid kits and equipment did not include a life-saving defibrillator.

First team doctor at Liverpool Football Club, Zafar Iqbal, likened the need for a defibrillator to that of a fire extinguisher: “12 to 16 young people die from a sudden cardiac arrest every week. In my view, just as we have access to a fire extinguisher in the event of a fire, AEDs should be immediately available if someone suffers a cardiac arrest.

“My wife used an AED to save my son’s life when he unfortunately suffered a cardiac arrest. The Oliver King Foundation deserve tremendous praise by ensuring the provision of an AED in every primary school in Liverpool.”

Of course, a defibrillator is not a fix-all solution. Although easy to use, first aiders at any school, leisure centre or sports ground should also receive medical equipment training to ensure that they know how to use it. The public, too, need to be made more aware of basic first aid procedures. Recently, the British Heart Foundation together with actor Vinny Jones and the ‘Staying Alive’ song raised awareness in the importance of performing CPR. In fact, when used alongside AED, CPR increases the survival rate by ten times – from 5% to 50%.

It remains to be seen whether the e-petition has any impact on defibrillator legislation.


Buying Medical Equipment and Supplies

Posted by admin on June 15, 2013 at 8:42 am. Filed under: Medical Supplies

With shrinking NHS budgets, it can be difficult for hospitals and medical practices to decide where and when to spend their precious funds on medical equipment and supplies. Last year, Health Minister Simon Burns revealed that alternative ways of buying supplies and equipment could save the NHS £1.2 billion, which could then be reinvested in patient care.

It’s not just the expensive medical diagnostic equipment that will save the pounds either. Simple things such as changing their supplier for latex gloves and sutures can also make a real difference. As well as medical equipment, Mr Burns also wants the NHS to look at its suppliers for catering and energy.

A £300 million cash fund has been established by the Department of Health, together with the NHS Supply Chain, in order to enable the NHS to save money by bulk buying large equipment, including ultrasound machines, MRI scanners, CT scanners and technology relating to cancer treatment. This has allowed the NHS to save £11 million already.

The NHS has previously found it difficult to control its buying and spending power because there was a lack of knowledge between local hospitals about what equipment was needed.

Speaking about the issue, Mr Burns said: “Waste is unacceptable when we know there are simple solutions. That is why the NHS needs to buy smarter and get the best value for the taxpayer for every penny spent.

“We know that at least £1.2 billion could be saved over the next four years if the NHS innovatively changes the way it buys good and services. Already, over £11 million has been saved through bulk-buy discounts on the cash fund. This is the first step to better, smarter procurement in the NHS and we will be working closely with hospital trusts over the next six months to help them save even more money that can be reinvested in patient care.”

MRI and CT scanners only have a recommended life of about ten years, at which point they need updating or replacing. The NHS estimate that around 200 of these items will need replacing over the next couple of years and so significant discounts will be able to be made through bulk buying deals.

The Cash Fund investment allows the NHS Supply Chain to secure these bulk buying deals with suppliers. The Managing Director of Business Solutions for NHS Supply Chain, Andy Brown, said: “This important development will allow NHS Supply Chain to group together the purchasing power of the NHS for this vital equipment, make large commitments to suppliers and bring improved planning to the management and replacement of this equipment across the NHS and with suppliers.”

Of course, it is not just on the big ticket items where money can be saved. By working hard to save costs in every aspect of the NHS, from supplies of medical gloves through to large diagnostic equipment, the money saved can be reinvested in improving services and quality of care for patients, something which the NHS badly needs following recent devastating reports surrounding Stafford Hospital.


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