Number of defibrillators in UK cities: New data released

People

Do you know where your nearest public access defibrillator is? The information might just save a life.

Here at CE Safety, we have investigated how many public defibrillators there are in each region of the UK. We set out to collect the latest data from British ambulance services via Freedom of Information requests to pinpoint which cities have the most and fewest of these lifesaving machines registered in public areas. 

Birmingham has the most AEDs outside London

Birmingham was the city with the most automated external defibrillators (AEDs) outside of London, with 954 registered. This was followed by Belfast (616), Swansea (459), Leeds (418) and Cardiff (415).

The places with fewest are Bournemouth (10), Bristol (5), Swindon (5), St David’s (5) and Gloucester (3).

CITY Number Of Defibs
London (whole region) 6,622
Birmingham 954
Belfast 616
Swansea 459
Leeds 418
Cardiff 415
Coventry 308
Wolverhampton 292
Newport 206
Sheffield 216
Worcester 203
Hereford 177
York 161
Stoke-on-Trent 129
Londonderry 123
Durham 121
Norwich 118
Wakefield 108
Newcastle 104
Newtownabbey 96
Hull 86
Lichfield 84
Sunderland 82
Bradford 71
Peterborough 51
Bangor 48
Chelmsford 44
Cambridge 38
St Albans 37
St Asaph 19
Ely 16
Cheltenham 15
Exeter 15
Plymouth 10
Bournemouth 10
Bristol 5
Swindon 5
St David’s 5
Gloucester 3

Number of public access defibrillators per capita in UK cities

When we look at how defibrillators are distributed according to population size, however, the results are quite different. The place with the most machines per person is Swansea. Despite only having 459 defibrillators registered, the city has 146 per 100,000 people. This is followed in the top five by Wolverhampton (292), Durham (121), Belfast (616) and Newtownabbey (96).

Although it has the most registered AEDs, London is way down the table in 12th place, with just 69 defibrillators per 100,000 people. Other large cities were surprisingly low on the list, including Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Bradford.

CITY NO. OF PADS PADS PER 100,000 PEOPLE
Swansea 459 146
Wolverhampton 292 130
Durham 121 121
Belfast 616 96
Newtownabbey 96 96
Hereford 177 91
Cardiff 415 86
Lichfield 84 84
Londonderry 123 82
Leeds 418 79
York 161 77
London (whole region) 6,622 69
Newport 206 65
Norwich 118 59
Bangor 48 48
Worcester 203 37
Chelmsford 44 37
St Albans 37 37
Birmingham 954 36
Stoke-on-Trent 129 33
Wakefield 108 32
Sheffield 216 29
Peterborough 51 28
Hull 86 27
Cambridge 38 26
Sunderland 82 24
Bradford 71 19
St Asaph 19 19
Ely 16 16
Newcastle 104 13
Cheltenham 15 13
Ely 16 16
Cheltenham 15 13
Exeter 15 11
St David’s 5 5
Plymouth 10 4
Bournemouth 10 3
Gloucester 3 2
Bristol 5 <1
Swindon 5 <1

Number of registered total defibrillators registered to each ambulance service

The results were slightly different when it came to numbers in the ambulance services individually, which cover whole regions rather than just cities. London’s densely populated metropolis, with an ambulance that covers a wide area, has the most by far. Following that, both East and West Midlands have a substantial number more than other UK regions. 

defibrillators numbers registered to uk ambulance services
  1. London: 6,622
  2. East Midlands: 3,561
  3. West Midlands: 2,147
  4. Wales: 1,567
  5. Yorkshire: 1,060
  6. Northern Ireland: 835
  7. North East: 307
  8. East of England: 304

Comparisons to 2019’s findings

We conducted a similar investigation in 2019. This year’s findings show a surge in registered defibrillators across the UK, but the ranking of cities has altered. 

Swansea has added 110 public access defibrillators to its figures in the past three years, and the city is still in the lead with most machines per 100,000 people. Belfast is the only city to remain in the top five since our first research and has added an impressive 342 AEDs for public use.

London was in sixth place in 2019, and while the number of AEDs per 100,000 has increased slightly (69 this year from 61), other places have made efforts to implement more. 

Is your defibrillator on the system? 

Our investigation comes at the same time as a national database has been launched in an effort to provide one central signpost for defibrillator locations. The Circuit, which has been created by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), is a place for all newly installed AEDs to be registered, so they can be found easily in the event of a cardiac arrest emergency. 

The BHF suggests there may be tens of thousands of defibrillators out there, but if no-one knows where they are then they may be redundant when they are needed most. 

BHF Chief Executive, Dr Charmaine Griffiths, said: “The Circuit is pioneering technology which will help emergency services direct bystanders more quickly to a defibrillator when someone collapses with a cardiac arrest. But for The Circuit to save lives, it is vital that the tens of thousands of unregistered defibrillators across the UK are put on the system.”

If you are a guardian of a public access defibrillator, registering your machine is quick, easy and free of charge. Find out more here

defib dummy

How To Find Your Nearest Defibrillator

Usually, the emergency services can point you in the direction of any registered AEDs via calling 999. They are increasingly found in all public areas, such as offices, leisure centres, schools, community spaces, stations, airports and shopping centres. 

Tesco has recently become the first UK supermarket to register all of its 2,190 defibrillators to The Circuit database, and government transport departments in Wales and Northern Ireland have just implemented hundreds of new machines in bus and train stations. 

The push for greater access and awareness

There are more than 30,000 cardiac arrests every year, out of which only about one in 10 people survive. Immediate CPR and defibrillation can double a person’s chance of survival. Read our ultimate guide to AEDs to find out more about how to use a defibrillator and how it works. 

Gary Ellis, from CE Safety, said: “Quite simply, defibrillators are lifesavers. It might seem as though some cities don’t have as many AEDs as they should, but remember that these figures probably only scratch the surface.”

“While it’s positive more and more machines are being installed, having them in place is simply not enough. We all need to know where they are in the event of a cardiac emergency, so please, please get your defibrillators registered onto The Circuit, and let’s try to get these figures up.”

“It would also be advisable for as many people as possible to be trained in how to use public access defibrillators, especially in the workplace and personnel in stations and public places. The more people know about them – and how to use them – the more people will undoubtedly be saved every year.”

Please note: London Ambulance Service covers the whole London area. East Midlands Ambulance Service submitted its findings as a total (3,561) without city breakdowns. We did not get a response from North West, South Central or South East Coast ambulance services to our Freedom of Information requests, so these regions have not been included in our findings. 

We could not get any totals from the Scottish Ambulance Service, however a full list of each defibrillator and their location can be found here.