While gloves are essential tools for some tasks – they are not always required.
Nursing staff are being pushed to reduce “unnecessary” glove use in a bid for healthcare services to become more sustainable.
The Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) Glove Awareness Week calls upon healthcare workers to safely reduce their use of gloves across day to day practice.
Plastic gloves are derived from crude oil, the production of which contributes to climate change and environmental pollution. They are also often produced outside of the UK and travel thousands of miles to reach health care staff.
While gloves are essential tools for some tasks the College explains, they are not always required – and effective hand hygiene can be used instead.
The professional body is asking nurses to not automatically use gloves when giving IV medication, giving vaccines, aiding patients with nutrition, entering a patient’s home and providing comfort.
Reducing waste and increasing sustainability.
Gloves should be used in contact with blood or body fluids, broken skin, and harmful drugs or chemicals.
Rose Gallagher, RCN Professional Lead for Infection Prevention and Control, said: “Nursing staff have always instinctively turned to examination gloves as a first line of protection and the pandemic saw a massive increase in their use.
“They are, however, not always necessary and their over-use can lead to long-term and sometimes permanent damage to the hands. Nursing staff can be reassured that hand hygiene is a highly effective way of protecting themselves from viruses such as COVID-19, which means we can reduce glove use safely when they are not required.
“By taking steps to make one change and reducing the use of gloves, nursing staff can also play a huge part in reducing waste and increasing sustainability in health and care services.”
According to NHS England data, a staggering 12.7 billon gloves were sent for use in the NHS and social care in England alone between 25 February 2020 to 31 March 2022. This compares to 1.7 billion in 2019.