Thursday, 14 January 2016
Order of Business
I wish to speak for a moment about Professor Frank Pantridge. He would have been 100 this year but unfortunately he died in 2004. His contribution to cardiology continues in hospitals, sports clubs and public places is immense because in 1965 he invented the defibrillator. It is something that has saved many people's lives who would otherwise have died. We debated this matter two or three years ago and adjourned the debate when the Minister said he wanted to consider the Bill, yet nothing has happened since then. Something must happen on this issue. I very much doubt if we will get a chance to debate it again in this Seanad, but we should certainly call on the Minister to do something about it. Professor Pantridge worked in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.
Speaking about his invention on BBC Radio Ulster in 1998, he said he did not create the device for personal gain or prestige, but simply to save lives. He added: "People were getting cardiac arrests in a situation where the heart stops. In the casualty department people were arriving dead, having died in the ambulance". He went on to say, "My objective was to have almost a pocket defibrillator, if that was possible". He went on to produce one.
When we debated defibrillator legislation here, the House was fully behind the Bill but we adjourned it with one minute to go to give the Minister time to consider the costs. Nothing has happened since then and we have not been able to achieve what we set out to do. Maybe what we set out to achieve was a little too much. We said there should be a defibrillator in every building that has 100 people per day going through it but that did not happen. It was suitable that the Leader was able to find time for statements on innovation and jobs yesterday evening, which was attended by the Minister of State, Deputy English. However, could we ask the Minister to do something about the defibrillator legislation so that its provisions could somehow be put into operation to save lives?