Campaigners to discuss latex allergies

Campaigners
who say the use of latex gloves in hospitals causes employee health problems
have called a meeting to discuss the issue.

The
campaigners believe that allergies to the latex gloves, which are worn for
protection against infections like hepatitis and HIV, are set to cost the NHS
billions of pounds in sick pay, retraining and compensation costs.

A
meeting at the TUC this week will discuss the issue with sufferers, trade
unions, regulators from the Government and representatives of the manufacturers
and suppliers.

The
meeting has been organised by the Latex Allergy Support Group and the National
Association of Theatre Nurses and will be chaired by TUC senior policy officer
and Health and Safety Commission member Owen Tudor. He said: "Latex
allergies are entirely preventable, and every NHS Trust needs to make sure they
are not causing diseases or endangering their patients. The drain on the NHS’
resources is intolerable and unnecessary, and the suffering that is caused is a
tragedy because it does not need to happen."

The
main cause of latex allergies at the workplace is the powder on high-protein
gloves which staff put on and take off many times a day. It is claimed the
powder leaches the proteins from the gloves and can be breathed in, causing
asthma, hay-fever type symptoms, hives or in extreme cases anaphylaxis, or
absorbed into the skin, causing dermatitis.

Campaigners
say that alternatives exist and replacing latex gloves can often be cheaper in
the short-term.

It
is claimed that asthma caused by latex is the fastest growing cause of
work-related asthma in Britain, with up to 3.6 million people in Britain
allergic to latex (including up to 17 per cent of all nurses).

Other
occupations affected include food preparation, hairdressing and police
scene-of-the-crime officers.

www.tuc.org.uk

By Quentin Reade

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