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One thousand more chances to save a life

Every dental practice in Scotland will boast a life-saving defibrillator, under a £1m scheme to boost survival chances after a heart attack.

The Scottish Government is delivering 97 machines, after more than 1,500 Scots died in the community last year after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The locations of the defibrillators will also be mapped by ambulance staff so call handlers can direct people to the nearest one, while patients wait for paramedics to arrive.

They can be used by anyone to deliver an electric shock to the chest to restore a person's heart to a normal rhythm after a cardiac arrest.

Michael Matheson, Scotland’s public health minister, said: 'Every second counts when someone's heart goes into cardiac arrest and having access to a defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death.

'There are almost 1,000 NHS dental practices in the centre of Scottish communities.

'By giving them this equipment, we are providing 1,000 more chances to save a life.'

Last year, a survey found that more than half of dental surgeries and GP (general practitioner) practices across the UK do not have a defibrillator, or staff are unaware if they have one.

Of employees questioned at practices with them, 36% did not know how to use a defibrillator, or would not be confident enough to use it.

The machines are expected to be in place by the end of August.

Any dental practice that has already bought a defibrillator will be compensated.

In England, ministers recently announced a deal to make cut-price defibrillators available – but only at schools.

The department for education is identifying a supplier who will offer defibrillators, which cost around £1,000, to all schools at a competitive price for the autumn term.

In the absence of similar help in the NHS, a group of dental practices in Hampshire have set up its own scheme to install the machines in its surgeries.

The dentists hope to install around 130 machines across the county, and make that information available to people dialing 999 to report a heart attack.

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