Wednesday, 20 December 2023: A coalition of leading first aid and cardiovascular charities, including St John Ambulance, British Heart Foundation,and the British Red Cross, have pledged support for a campaign to scrap the VAT on Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), a move which would
increase affordability and save lives.

This comes as over 100 MPs and Peers wrote to the Prime Minister and Chancellor last month urging
the Government to consider scrapping the defibrillator tax ahead of the Autumn Statement.

The Heart Restart Tax initiative is led by the British Healthcare Trades Association and brings
together community groups, charities, businesses and MPs to campaign for change.


Defibrillators are used to restart a person’s heart in the event of sudden cardiac arrest and early
treatment can increase survival rates to as high as 70% if defibrillation is given within three to five
minutes of collapse. However, the median distance to an AED from the centre of any given UK
postcode is over 700m – an average 19-minute walking distance there and back.

Small businesses, community groups, charities and private users must pay added tax on top of all
defibrillator purchases – bringing costs up by £200-500 per defibrillator. The campaign is urging the
Government to reconsider the tax to ensure that more defibrillators can be installed across the

Currently, local authorities, the NHS, and specific first aid charities are exempt from VAT on
defibrillators, meaning that the tax only hits small businesses and charities, community groups, grassroots sports clubs and private owners.

In January, the Irish Government removed the VAT on defibrillators in Ireland in a bid to save lives
and reduce pressure on healthcare services.

Lynn Thomas, Medical Director at St John Ambulance, said: “In a cardiac arrest, every second counts. Using a defibrillator is crucial in those first moments and when used quickly can more the double the chances of survival. At St John Ambulance, we know Community First Aid Saves Lives, that’s why we welcome this campaign to empower our communities by strengthening public access to first aid training and equipment that will improve health outcomes and help save lives.”


David Stockdale, Chief Executive of the British Healthcare Trades Association, said: “We know that defibrillators save lives, but they are far too few and far between on our streets. This Heart Restart Tax is a tax on saving lives and we’re really pleased to have the support of leading first aid and cardiovascular charities to reinforce that scrapping the VAT on defibrillators is a common-sense solution to a real problem for private users, community groups and grassroots sports clubs.”

Susannah Kerr, Head of Public Affairs at the British Heart Foundation said: “The UK still has very poor survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrests, and that is why it is vital that lifesaving defibs are as available and affordable as possible for communities across the country. We're proud to support this campaign so that community groups, businesses and charities across the UK can ensure more defibs are where they need to be in the ultimate medical emergency."

Patrick Gollop, Director of Red Cross Training, said:“A sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any time, and survival rates are significantly greater by using chest compressions and a defibrillator quickly. This means much more should be done to increase the numbers of defibrillators across the country and particularly in community spaces; removing VAT on all defibrillator purchases would help to increase affordability and access and save lives in turn.”