Proposed new coins could add to money worries

Leading dermatologists have raised concerns about the possible health implications of a move by the Government to bring in cheaper nickel-plated coins.

In a letter published on the BMJ website, authors from the St John’s Institute of Dermatology and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield questioned the Treasury’s plans to introduce Royal Mint nickel-plated coins.

The authors, led by specialist registrar Dr Danielle Greenblatt, have warned that there has been no assessment of the new coinage, nor any consideration given to the potential costs to health in terms of skin disease, financial implications to the NHS or other costs to the taxpayer.

The Royal Mint, the letter stated, had confirmed it had “no information on nickel-release from the new coins” and that no studies or assessments have been undertaken on how it may affect those with a nickel allergy.

By comparison, Sweden’s Riksbank has recently concluded that nickel-plated coins “pose unacceptable risks to health” and so would “not be using nickel-containing alloys in their coinage”.

Dr Greenblatt and her co-authors concluded: “Although the Treasury might not be expected to have the expertise to undertake a risk assessment of the potential impacts to health of the nickel-plated coins, discussions showed that the Royal Mint seems to be poorly informed.

“It has proved impossible to obtain reassurance that the coins will not cause adverse effects in people with hand eczema who have nickel-contact allergy.”

The letter also called on chief scientific adviser to the Government, Sir John Beddington, to give his opinion on the matter.

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