Local Charity Helps Put Cardiac Health on National Sports Agenda

The independent Duty of Care in Sport review, which was led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, advocates more training and better awareness of cardiac health to help protect people - especially young people - who play sport. 

The recommendations set out in the report, commissioned by the Government, cover areas including safeguarding, mental welfare and equality, diversity and inclusion. 

A section on safety, injury and medical issues has been particularly welcomed by local heart charity the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust (JHMT), which has been lobbying for better understanding of conditions like sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS). 

The report also calls for more information and awareness about cardiac screening and for more club members to have basic hands-on CPR training and access to a defibrillator. 

To help accelerate these heart safe standards in sport, all new sports facilities funded by Government grants should include a defibrillator when they are built. It should be available to the construction crew, before being passed on to be used on-site as a publicly accessible defibrillator. 

Chair of the JHMT, Steve Humphries, said: “We were delighted to have an input into this report about the importance of cardiac safety for all young people who play sport - from elite athletes to first-time participants, whether on or off the field. Spectators, too, deserve the same level of cardiac safety. 

“This report seeks to embed the provision of defibrillators in new sports facilities and recognises that all those responsible for the health and welfare of young people participating in sport need to be better informed about specific symptoms that can lead to cardiac arrest. 

“This is long overdue. Joe’s Trust has demonstrated over some considerable time that education, awareness, CPR skills and quick access to a defibrillator are key to increasing the chances of survival in the event of a cardiac emergency.” 

The JHMT offers free training in CPR and how to operate a defibrillator for sports clubs. It also helps to provide funding for defibrillators to be fitted in places where they can be accessed by the public at all times. 

Dr Ffion Davies, medical lead for the Trust and a consultant in A&E at Leicester’s hospitals, said: “It is very encouraging that the Government has published guidance about sports safety, and the importance of preventing deaths from SADS conditions. It is good to see mention of CPR training and the availability of defibrillator machines for public use.” 

Mike Ferguson, consultant at UHL and Trustee of JHMT, said: “JHMT has always supported the concept of increased awareness of possible cardiac death, how to deal with such an emergency and the need for targeted screening. We will continue to teach CPR and defibrillator familiarity within sport and increase the number of sports facilities and clubs that have access to defibrillators 24/7." 

Baroness Tanni-Grey Thomson is one of the UK’s most successful athletes. She competed at five Paralympic Games, winning 16 medals, held over 30 world records and won the London Marathon six times between 1992 and 2002. She became a life peer in the House of Lords in 2010. 

She said: “'I would like to thank the Trust for the information that they submitted to the review. Sport is a wonderful thing to be involved in, but it’s important to ensure all people play in the safest possible environment. There is still much to do in terms of raising awareness and standards for a wide variety of issues around duty of care in sport.”