Oliver King heart death: Defibrillator petition 'ignored'

Oliver King Oliver King died during a swimming lesson

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The father of a Liverpool boy who died of a heart condition has criticised the government for "ignoring" a petition to put defibrillators in public buildings.

Mark King said he believes Oliver, who died during a school swimming lesson in March 2011, could have been saved if a machine was nearby.

An online petition requesting they are put in all public buildings by law gained 22,800 signatures.

The government said the matter had been devolved to local ambulance trusts.

A spokesman said the Department of Health set up the National Defibrillator Programme in 2000, to place the machines in public places, but from 2007 responsibility for the programme was devolved to ambulance trusts.

'Bitterly disappointed'

He added: "Most of the ambulance trusts across the UK have community resuscitation departments or similar, which work to place defibrillators in the community, and in areas of need."

Mr King said he was "bitterly disappointed" by the government's response to the petition.

"We feel they have just paid us lip service and have not acknowledge the strength of the public feeling regarding this matter," he said.

He has urged more people to sign the petition as if it gets 100,000 signatures a debate in Parliament will be triggered.

Mr King added: "If you're a parent you can't afford to ignore this request - we feel certain had there been a defibrillator available Oliver would still be here with us today. Together we can make a difference."

'Head in the sand'

Liverpool councillor Jake Morrison, who created the e-petition, said: "It has taken us since September to get this response, which is completely inadequate and unhelpful.

"The government have buried their head in the sand on this issue. We need legislation so that all public buildings require defibrillators."

Oliver King, who was a pupil at King David High School in Childwall, suffered a cardiac arrest due to Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS), which campaigners say takes the lives of 12 young people aged between 12 and 35 every week.

The Oliver King Foundation, a charity set up in his honour, has started a project to put defibrillators in all 122 Liverpool primary schools.

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