A public consultation has been launched on a proposed change in the law to improve Scotland’s poor cardiac arrest survival rates.
The Member’s Bill from Anas Sarwar MSP would require defibrillators to be registered with the ambulance service, allowing 999 call handlers to identify the nearest device and direct bystanders to it.
Currently, there are around 3,500 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Scotland every year where resuscitation is attempted, and in only 1-in-12 of those cases will the person survive.
Every minute without CPR or defibrillation leads to a 10 per cent decrease in the patient’s chances of surviving, meaning the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) can dramatically improve survival rates.
But there is currently no legislation in Scotland governing their registration, with purchasers only asked to log them with the Scottish Ambulance Service on a voluntary basis.
As a result, out-of-hospital cardiac arrests often take place in the vicinity of a public AED which is unknown to 999 call-handlers, meaning that bystanders are unable to be directed to the nearest defibrillator.
A study carried out in Sweden found that an AED was 15 times more likely to be used if registered.
The Bill would place a duty on the purchaser or guardian of all existing and newly-purchased AEDs in Scotland to register it.
Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour MSP for Glasgow, said:
“I want Scotland to lead the way in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival, and my proposed Member’s Bill supports that ambition.
“Registration would support the ambulance service to identify the nearest available working AED, potentially significantly reducing the time involved in getting a defibrillator to the scene and, in turn, improving survival rates.
“The Bill would also have the advantage of allowing for AEDs to be placed in a more strategic way than at present across Scotland.
“By locating and mapping current AEDs, we can identify areas which lack them within an accessible distance.
“The aim of this Bill is to help bystanders save the lives of their fellow citizens and allow Scotland to lead the way in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival, and I encourage the public to show their support in this consultation.”
The consultation document and more details can be read here
• A Member’s Bill is a public Bill introduced by an individual MSP. Members’ Bills are distinct from Executive Bills (introduced by Scottish Government ministers) and Committee Bills (introduced by committee conveners).
• Anas Sarwar’s draft proposal was produced with the support of the Scottish Parliament’s Non-Government Bills Unit (NGBU), and is supported by the Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet.
• A consultation process has now been launched, concluding on May 25.
• The final proposal will require the support of at least 18 other MSPs from at least half of the parties or groups represented in the Parliamentary Bureau, and if the Scottish Government has not exercised its right to block the proposal (on the grounds that either it or the UK Government will legislate in similar terms), the MSP secures a right to introduce a Bill to give effect to the proposal.
• Once introduced, a Member’s Bill is subject to the same three-stage scrutiny process as other public Bills. If it is passed at the end of the process, it becomes an Act.