Lorna Pritt, Infection Control Matron for UHMBT, who is one of the leaders of the Gloves Off campaign
Let’s stop inappropriate use of gloves and:
- Enhance patient care
- Reduce the risk of dermatitis
- Cut down on landfill/protect the environment
- Reduce the risk of infection
- Cut down UHMBT’s annual usage of more than ten million gloves
- Save money for the NHS
Colleagues at UHMBT are being urged to join a hard-hitting campaign to enhance patient care, support the environment, protect their hands and help save hundreds of thousands of pounds for the NHS by using gloves more appropriately.
The Gloves Off Campaign is encouraging all colleagues at UHMBT to help reduce the current annual usage of more than ten million gloves by only using them when they are needed.
Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive of UHMBT, is keen to see the Gloves Off Campaign adopted by colleagues working in hospitals and the community. The entire senior nursing team and executive team are also backing Gloves Off.
Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive of UHMBT
Sue said a contaminated or dirty glove is as bad as dirty hands and gloves can sometimes be a barrier to providing excellent care. Sue wants colleagues to protect themselves from the risk of dermatitis and help to stop so many gloves going into landfill. Potential financial savings for the NHS will also be a positive outcome of Gloves Off.
In the UK an estimated 1,000 healthcare workers contract diagnosable work-related dermatitis each year, according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive.
Data from the NHS Business Services Authority shows that more than 1.5 billion boxes of examination gloves are purchased annually at a cost of £35m.
At UHMBT, over a 12 month period from November 2018 to October 2019, the total of nitrile non-sterile examination gloves ordered via NHS Supply Chain was a massive 10,773,450 individual gloves.
Lorna Pritt, Infection Control Matron for UHMBT, is also working on the campaign throughout the Trust and says wearing gloves is an essential part of clinical practice. However, inappropriate use can cause painful contact dermatitis which often leaves colleagues unable to perform hand hygiene.
The Gloves Off ethos will be further incorporated into hand hygiene training so that colleagues know exactly when to use gloves and when not to.
Lorna said: “It used to be that we hardly used gloves at all. Gloves were seen as precious. When disposable gloves came in, some people started using them even when they weren’t needed.
“The over-use of gloves de-humanises people. Touch is very important in the care of patients. It’s particularly important for babies but everyone benefits from the ‘healing touch’.
“As a Trust, we are rated as ‘Good’ for patient care by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) so we want to maintain that and improve on it.
“Gloves should only be used when there is blood, body fluids or risks from chemicals. If these things aren’t an issue, gloves don’t need to be worn.
“Some people think it is safer to use gloves but this is not the case. There are chemicals in the gloves that can cause dermatitis and it doesn’t necessarily protect you from infection.
“Good hand hygiene – using the Five Moments for Hand Hygiene recommended by the World Health Organisation – is a much better way to protect yourself and your patients. You still need to wash your hands – even if you are wearing gloves. It can be difficult to do that is you have painful dermatitis.”
Gloves Off was initially a national campaign by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Trust has adopted it to ensure that gloves are being used at the right times. The national campaign was launched with an awareness day by the World Health Association earlier in 2019.
Lorna added: “The environmental cost of the over-use of gloves is huge. We want to cut down on the amount of gloves going into landfill.
“Over-use of gloves has a massive impact on the environment. Many hundreds of thousands of gloves needlessly end up in landfill and we want to stop that. It’s incredibly wasteful. Colleagues at the Trust have told us they want to see less waste and for the environment to be considered so we are acting on that.
“Our message to everyone is that we’re not asking you to cut quality – we’re asking you to improve quality.”
Rose Gallagher, Professional Lead for Infection Prevention and Control at the RCN, is urging everyone at the Trust to read the ‘Tools of the Trade’ Guidance (please see end of story for link).
Rose said: “Inappropriate use of gloves increases the risk of nasty skin complaints and may even exacerbate staffing shortages.
“It also makes clinical colleagues more susceptible to picking up infections in the open areas of skin as the protective function of the skin is damaged.”
Sue added: “If we all work towards the common goal of reducing inappropriate glove use we can enhance care, protect colleagues from dermatitis, protect the environment and save money.
“We are currently running a War on Waste (WOW) campaign so reducing inappropriate glove use will help with this.
“I think Gloves Off is a highly positive campaign and, as a nurse, I believe it will benefit patients and colleagues. Please support Gloves Off and make a different to patients, each other and the environment.”
Gloves Off will run over the next few months with updates on teams that have successfully reduced their glove use, information on the campaign, patient experience stories, useful tips, photographs, posters, infographics, social media posts on the Trust’s Twitter and Facebook pages, stories in Weekly News and updates from managers.
If you have any examples of how you or your colleagues are reducing glove use, please email Lorna Pritt at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lorna on 01229 491 121 or email Ingrid Kent in the Communications Team at Ingrid.email@example.com and we will feature them through our communications channels.
You can follow #GlovesOffUHMBT on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The RCN ‘Tools of the Trade’ Guidance on glove use can be found here: https://www.rcn.org.uk/professional-development/publications/pdf-006922
Gloves Off resources, including posters for UHMBT colleagues, are available here: http://uhmb/clinicalservices/ipc/Pages/Campaigns.aspx
For more on the RCN Gloves Off campaign please see here: https://www.rcn.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/glove-awareness