By: 15 June 2021
Focus on patient safety leads to latex-free physiotherapy products

NHS trusts can now take advantage of latex-free products for patients undergoing physiotherapy.

The NHS has been migrating to latex-free products wherever possible since 2008 due to potential allergies in both patients and healthcare professionals. Individuals can develop hypersensitivity to the proteins that are present in natural rubber latex. Allergic reactions may develop as a result of this hypersensitivity including hives, a stuffy or running nose, itching and wheezing.

While the initial focus was on the use of latex-free gloves, the quality and quantity of latex-free products available has improved. So, while renewing the tender for its Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy framework, NHS Supply Chain consulted with clinicians and suppliers to remove latex resistance bands from its online catalogue.

Suppliers were already selling latex-free varieties so the conversations with suppliers and with clinicians during engagement was to understand any barriers to removing latex from the catalogue. Clinicians were positive about the move and suppliers were happy to accommodate the change as this was in line with national policy and removal of unwarranted variation principles outlined in the Carter report.

Marc Naughton, Clinical Engagement and Implementation Manager from NHS Supply Chain: Rehabilitation, Disabled Services, Women’s Health and Associated Consumables said: “Last year we supplied NHS organisations with more than 625,000 metres of latex resistance bands.

“Last autumn they were removed from the framework in-line with national policy, however, there are a variety of clinically effective ranges providing latex-free alternatives from a number of suppliers.

“By only supplying latex-free resistance bands there will be significant benefits to patients with known allergies but more importantly, unknown allergies to latex, thereby reducing risk of harm to patients.

“These products have been used successfully over a number of years and NHS organisations can be confident that we have a full product range to meet their needs.”

The new framework has eight brands providing latex-free resistance bands (extra light to extra-extra heavy) in a variety of lengths (50m to individual patient loops).

Fay Allen, NHS Supply Chain’s Product Assurance Specialist, added: “This is great news not just for patients but also healthcare professionals because it avoids any potential allergic reactions to latex. Moving to latex-free resistance bands is a positive step towards improving patient safety which is a core part of our approach to supplying clinical products.”