John Healey MP (right) with David Stockdale, British Healthcare Trades Association Chief Executive (left) and Martek Lifecare’s Rob Higgie (Centre)

John Healey MP has launched a national campaign to put a stop to VAT being charged on the sale of defibrillators.

The Wentworth and Dearne MP recently met with Wath based defibrillator distributor Martek Lifecare and the British Healthcare Trades Association about the issue.

At the moment local groups, sports clubs and charities face a 20% VAT charge when they buy the life saving machines.

John Healey said: “It’s great that defibrillators are becoming more readily available to help people in an emergency, but local organisations and charities are facing an extra cost when they look to purchase a unit for their community.

“The majority of defibrillators bought by these groups face a 20% VAT charge on top of the units they buy – that’s around an extra £200 each time.

“This is a tax on saving lives. Defibrillators bought for use by community groups, charities and sports clubs should be VAT exempt to make them more affordable and help to save more lives across the country.”

A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest. This high energy shock is called defibrillation, which is an essential part in trying to save the life of someone who is in cardiac arrest.

David Stockdale, Chief Executive at British Healthcare Trades Association, said: “The government does have a VAT relief scheme on purchases made by local authorities and those made through voluntary contributions which are donated to eligible charities or the NHS , but this doesn’t include charities, sports clubs and other organisations purchasing their own defibrillator.

“Defibrillators are a vital piece of equipment, but many groups are struggling to raise the funds they need to purchase one.

“We need to see VAT relief extended further to help these groups and make the cost of life saving equipment more affordable.”

Early defibrillation with a patient in cardiac arrest greatly improves survival rates. Figures from the British Heart Foundation show there are currently over 30,000 cases of out of hospital suspected cardiac arrests every year with fewer than 1 in 10 people surviving. Immediate CPR can double or quadruple survival rates and defibrillation within 3-5 minutes of collapse can increase survival by up to 70%.
Martek Lifecare’s Rob Higgie said: “When someone has a cardiac arrest, every second counts.

“Making defibrillators more affordable by removing VAT will mean they are more readily available in the community and ready to use when needed.

“The simple fact is that if more defibrillators are available then more lives can be saved.”

Earlier this year the Irish Government removed the cost of VAT on defibrillators in the country, something John, Martek Lifecare and the British Healthcare Trades Association want to see happen across the UK.