NHS Staff Affected by Dermatitis
Work related dermatitis is a condition that can be found in many different job roles, some are more surprising than others however symptoms always remain similar. The most common job roles often include the involvement of cleaning products or other chemical adhesives that can affect the skin. The exposure to these types of substances can lead to dermatitis and symptoms such as red, dry and cracking skin. It is worth noting that if the proper protection is provided such as rubber gloves then it is rare for dermatitis to develop however if the employer is negligent and doesn’t provide this protection they put their employees at risk.
Cases of negligence within the NHS have also affected staff. During the period of 2007 to 2012 a NHS trust was found negligent in carrying out regular health checks of their staff. These health checks often involve the investigation of common conditions caused within the NHS working environment. In relation to the case this was regarding the inspection of potential dermatitis symptoms or other skin related issues.
It took the involvement of the HSE to find that 23 cases had not been reported to the Health and Safety Executive which is a requirement by law.
Due to the findings the Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS trust pleaded guilty to breaching the health and safety legislation.
The HSE commented with the following
“As and when symptoms were reported by members of staff, they were simply told to see their GP by the trust’s occupational health team. As a result, cases of work-related dermatitis were not picked up by the trust and the issue was not seen as a priority.
At the time, there was no link between occupational health and dermatology department. This has since been rectified.”
The outcome of the case resulted in a £10,000 fine and costs of £9,620 for breaching the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
HSE inspector Emma O’Hara commented on the conclusion of the case.
“The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, which employs 5,000 people, failed to have an adequate management system in place to prevent dermatitis, a recognised condition in the health sector, and deal with it when it arose.
Employers must ensure they identify risks to staff and come up with plans and procedures to minimise the risks and make sure cases that do occur are properly treated and recorded.”
 “NHS trust occupational health team fails to prevent dermatitis among staff”, Nic Paton, Occupational Health, http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/nhs-trust-occupational-health-team-fails-prevent-dermatitis-among-staff/