The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) has teamed up with several charities to fight for more accessible and affordable defibrillators in the United Kingdom.  

As key stakeholders committed to the advancement of public health in the UK, RLSS UK, alongside nine other partners, have come together to lobby for the removal of Value of Added Tax (VAT) from defibrillators.  

Research found that in the most deprived areas of England and Scotland, the nearest 24/7 accessible defibrillator is on average a round trip of over a mile, or 1.8km1. The past two years have also seen a surge in costs of automated external defibrillators from £750 to £950, which continues to impact the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest. 

Pivotal in saving lives during emergencies, the current VAT on defibrillators poses a substantial barrier to their widespread availability, impeding community efforts to enhance public safety and why the group RLSS UK has written to all major parties asking for their support by pledging in their manifestos to reduce costs around this vital piece of lifesaving piece of equipment. 

The letter has been signed by RLSS UK, alongside Air Ambulances UK, Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross, Justin Edinburgh 3 Foundation, Resuscitation Council UK, St John Ambulance, St John Ambulance Cymru, St Andrew’s First Aid and Andy Reid, a Cardiac Arrest and Defibrillator Campaigner. 

Robert Gofton, Chief Executive Officer at RLSS UK, said: “Here at the Royal Life Saving Society UK, our mission revolves around education, training and support for lifesaving initiatives – and promoting the accessibility and affordability of key lifesaving equipment in the UK is no exception. 

"Defibrillators are indispensable in cardiac emergencies, where timely access can be the difference between life and death. Therefore, we are steadfast in our commitment to advocate for this critical cause. 

The significance of reducing VAT on such life-saving equipment is underscored by the unified stance of numerous organisations supporting this campaign. Together, we champion this change, ensuring our collective voice resonates clearly. It is imperative that our next government prioritises the removal of VAT from defibrillators. 

In this letter, we appeal to all major political parties to include support for VAT removal on defibrillators in their manifestos. Our goal is to narrow the accessibility gap for this vital equipment, ultimately saving lives and advancing a more equitable public health agenda across the UK."