A nurse’s allergic reaction to latex gloves has resulted in her employers being fined more than half a million pounds in a crown court.
Bedford-based Ramsay Health Care UK was this month prosecuted by the HSE for compromising the health and safety of its own workers.
The Hassett Street company, which runs a string of private hospitals, clinics and treatment centres, pleaded guilty to breaching sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act that gives it a legal duty to protect employees.
Southwark Crown Court heard how one of Ramsay’s nurses suffered “severe” dermatitis because she was required to wear latex gloves as part of her job in operating theatres.
“The dermatitis started with a small patch on the backs of her hands but over the course of a year spread to her whole hand, arms and legs,” said a spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive, after the case.
He added: “Ramsay Health Care had no risk assessment or policy in relation to latex and had provided no health surveillance to any employee since 2012. The worker had to fight for almost a year for her diagnosis having been given no support by her employer.”
Previously a worker had raised concerns about the running of the Ramsay’s internal occupational health service. An HSE investigation found the company had failed to appoint sufficient professionals to run the service and this compromised the health and safety of its employees, putting them at risk of suffering ill-health or of acquiring an infection.
The scrutiny revealed that three previous Ramsay nurses had raised concerns with the company but they had all been ignored.
The court heard Ramsay had no risk assessment or policy in place in relation to latex.
They were ordered to pay a fine of £550,000 and to pay prosecution costs of more than £36,000.
HSE Inspector Emma Page said: “Healthcare providers should be aware of their legal duty to protect the health and safety of their employees as well as their patients and service users.”
She added: “HSE will not hesitate to hold those accountable who do not fulfil their legal obligations.”