Regional papers in the north of England have been praised in the House of Commons for a series of campaigns to get defibrillators installed in workplaces and schools.
The House was debating Sudden Adult Death Syndrome when some MPs stood up to highlight how their local papers have been working to improve access and training to the life-saving equipment – and claimed the press could play a key role in future efforts to influence businesses on issues surrounding their workers’ health.
Easington MP Grahame Morris told the House: “I applaud the efforts of one of my local newspapers, The Northern Echo, which has been running the ‘A Chance to Live’ campaign in my region, promoting the use of defibrillators in public places – particularly gymnasiums – where there is a greater risk of cardiac arrest occurring both before and after strenuous effort.”
The Liverpool Echo was also praised for its Heartbeat campaign in support of the OK Foundation, which was launched after 12-year-old schoolboy Oliver King who died of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome while in a swimming pool, moments after winning a race.
The campaign included a popular e-petition to force the government to debate the need for defibrillators in UK schools, which at its peak attracted 165 signatures an hour making it the most highly supported e-petition in the country.
And Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg & Goole, told the debate that the Scunthorpe Telegraph was also interested in running a campaign about a move to get schools to train pupils to use a defibrillator both on and off school grounds.
“Newspapers can be part of our going out to challenge—I do not want to say ‘shame’ – businesses,” he said.
“I love businesses, but businesses make profits and do so on the back of their workers, to whom they have responsibility.
“Newspapers have a responsibility to go to businesses and challenge them, particularly big businesses. I understand that defibrillators would be expensive for smaller ones and those employing only one or two people, but we should ask big businesses, ‘What are you doing for the welfare of your workers? Where are your defibrillators?’
“Newspapers such as the Liverpool Echo and the Scunthorpe Telegraph have an important role to play in that.”