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LAS CPR 2,500

Londoners attempted to save people suffering cardiac arrest on almost 2,500 occasions last year, it has been revealed.

The figure is the highest ever recorded by the London Ambulance Service and came as it defended a slight fall in the percentage of cardiac patients alive on arrival at hospital and those who were discharged alive after treatment.

A total of 2,427 attempts at CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) chest compressions were made by bystanders in 2014/15. This meant that a “good samaritan” provided first aid prior to the arrival of emergency crews on 63.1 per cent of occasions  – 460 more attempts than the previous year.

LAS medical director Dr Fenella Wrigley told me: “I think it’s brilliant. From the point of view of helping more people across London, we want to see that figure continue to go up.”

The LAS cardiac arrest annual report reveals that paramedics attended 10,211 cardiac arrests, 406 more than the previous year, and attempted to resuscitate 4,665 patients, up 348 or eight per cent.

The percentage discharged alive from hospital fell from 10.3 per cent to nine per cent – meaning about 30 fewer people survived compared to 2013/14.

This is attributed to life-saving having been attempted on more older, sicker patients and on crews having taken on average about a minute longer to arrive, though waits were still within the eight-minute target.

Resuscitation was not attempted on 5,546 people, either because they were dead on arrival, had a “do not resuscitate” order or their death was expected.
London’s overall survival rate was the fifth best of 11 ambulance services in England.

However the capital was second best at delivering cardiac patients alive to hospital – 31.4 per cent, or 1,465 people, had a pulse.

This rate was even higher among the “Utstein” sub-group whose heart was in a “shockable rhythm” – 55.1 per cent had the return of spontaneous circulation when they arrived at hospital, also the second best figure nationally.

Dr Wrigley credited the spread of publicly-available defibrillators – there are more than 2,600 across the capital – with helping to save lives.

These defibrillators were used by the public on 73 occasions last year, compared to 18 occasions the previous year, with at least 41 people being discharged alive from hospital.

Cardiac patients were most likely to be white men in their sixties, with a Sunday morning in December the time of the greatest number of attacks.

Dr Wrigley praised LAS crews for their performance at a time of “very significant shortfall” in frontline paramedics. She said: “We are continuing to provide a very successful and effective service to the sickest people in London.”