GPs could be told to reduce their use of surgical gloves during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Department of Health and Social Care is considering launching a campaign to promote hand hygiene over glove use, in order to ‘improve hand health’ and reduce the use of gloves by healthcare professionals.
The Government’s new PPE strategy, announced today, said the overuse of gloves was associated with poor hand hygiene and transmission of infections.
Gloves are also the one product category of PPE which is not supplied by UK manufacturers.
It follows the suggestion that there was an ‘over-reliance’ on PPE in the face of Covid-19, with NHS England suggesting in May that GPs should focus on hand hygiene and basic infection prevention.
The new guidance said: ’The government is exploring whether a gloves awareness project, aimed at improving hand hygiene, may lead to improved hand health for staff.
‘Using gloves is one of the many measures health and social care staff can take to protect themselves and patients.
‘However, there is a body of evidence demonstrating how the overuse of non-sterile gloves is associated with poor hand hygiene and the cross-contamination and transmission of healthcare associated infections, as well as contact dermatitis.’
The guidance referenced a similar initiative launched in 2018 by Great Ormond Street Hospital.
‘During 2018-19, this [initiative] resulted in a reduction in the number of referrals to occupational health for contact dermatitis, whilst the use of plastic gloves reduced by 33%,’ according to the guidance.
It comes as the DHSC pledged that GP practices will be able to secure all their PPE from the Government’s PPE portal.
NHS England announced last week that GPs would be getting all their PPE free of charge going forward.