Could a skin check with your flu jab help address work-related dermatitis?

Glove awareness event hears options for nurses should include fast-track dermatology care

Glove awareness event hears options for nurses should include fast-track dermatology care

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Nurses who develop painful work-related skin problems should be fast-tracked for dermatology appointments, a senior RCN officer has said.

An estimated 1,000 healthcare workers develop work-related contact dermatitis in England, Scotland and Wales every year, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Causes include frequent exposure to water, cleaning agents and overuse or underuse of gloves. 

Follow the fast-track physio model

RCN national officer, employment relations Kim Sunley said offering access to specialist appointments and skin checks when nurses are invited for the annual flu vaccination could help tackle the problem.

Speaking at the RCN’s Are you Glove Aware event in London this week, Ms Sunley said nurses needed prompt advice and support when dealing with work-related skin health.

‘As we have fast-track physio, we should have fast-track dermatology appointments for staff,’ she said. ‘We’ve had some really great ideas around skin checks near flu jab time, so we can implement it into everyone’s busy routines.’

Rose Gallagher: ‘Nurses are unsure of
when they should be wearing gloves.’

RCN professional lead for infection prevention and control Rose Gallagher told the event that, with existing workforce pressures, the health and care sectors can ill afford absences due to work-related contact dermatitis.

‘If we’ve got 40,000 nurse vacancies and we are losing other nurses to preventable skin disease, either through relocation to non-clinical areas or losing them completely because they can’t continue to practise as nurses, that’s not acceptable,’ she said. 

Uncertainty over when to use gloves

In relation to overuse of examination gloves, Ms Gallagher said some nurses were overly cautious: ‘A perception has somehow arisen over the past decade that we have to treat every patient as potentially infectious.

‘What our members are telling us is that they are unsure of when they should and shouldn’t be wearing gloves, so they wear them all the time just in case.’

Ms Gallagher also urged nurses to consider the effect on the patient experience. ‘Touch is really important to the nurse-patient relationship and the experience of care,’ she said. ‘It’s thinking about the patient’s experience of care or the loved one’s experience of seeing nurses use gloves to feed their mother, where there is no risk.’


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