Along with other charities and health providers, AEDdonate have joined the campaign to Scrap The Heart Restart Tax.
We are calling for the UK Government to scrap the tax on defibrillators to widen community access and save lives.
Here’s what you need to know from the campaign website:
What is an AED?
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable lifesaving device that can provide an electric shock to restart the heart of someone suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest. Most cardiac arrests (72%) occur in the home or a workplace and a person in the UK has just an 8% chance of surviving if a cardiac arrest happens out of hospital. Survival rates are vastly increased to as high as 70% if a defibrillator is used within the first three to five minutes – but drop by 10% for every minute of delay after this time.
While half of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are witnessed by a bystander, public access defibrillator use is reported as used in less than 1 in 10 instances. There are simply not enough defibrillators available.
How are AEDs taxed?
Only AEDs purchased by or donated to eligible charities, local authorities and the NHS are exempt from VAT. Other charities, community groups and small businesses are not exempt. Large taxable businesses can already claim back the VAT on purchases of defibrillators and so the tax is prohibitive for smaller organisations, community groups and individuals. At the same time, other medical devices and products, including wheelchairs, prescription medicines and drugs for individual use, are exempt from VAT. We believe that all purchases of defibrillators should be tax free – like other medical devices and products – to save as many lives as possible.
Why should defibrillators be zero-rated?
Defibrillators are expensive pieces of equipment – costing between £800-£2,500 per unit, alongside upkeep and maintenance. Removing VAT from the sale of AEDs would make them significantly more affordable and bring costs down by up to £500. If AEDs are more affordable, small businesses and community groups will be more likely to be able to purchase them, meaning more defibrillators on our streets and more lives saved.
Abolishing VAT would cost a relatively small amount for the Treasury and would also support the health system in the long-term as early defibrillation means patients are less likely to need treatment in intensive care and have shorter stays in hospital.
The Irish Government recently took the step to scrap the Heart Restart Tax in Ireland. The UK Government should follow this example to increase the number of defibrillators in community centres, sports clubs and workplaces. This will save lives in turn.