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It must have been around 25 years ago that the University of Westminster’s report was released on the potential hazards of warm air hand dryers as opposed to paper towels. I ran the news in the magazine I was editing at the time, and spent much of the following few weeks ducking the flack that came from the hand dryer manufacturers as well as the magazine’s sales team. I was told that “the bottom dropped out of the market overnight”.
The report has been doing the rounds ever since but I’ve steered clear. My view is that we each have our preferences when it comes to drying our hands and that a poorly maintained washroom where piles of damp hand towels are left lying around – sometimes having been used by those who’ve not bothered to wash their hands properly first – can be just as hazardous.
Now one of the manufacturers whose hand dryers are seen in so many of our washrooms has hit the headlines again for the potential ill-health its products are accused of spreading. I can imagine another ‘head in hands’ moment when the news (& what came with it) hit the fan.
It’s reported that more than 100 NHS trusts have had to take thousands of Dyson bladeless fans off the wards because they’re linked to healthcare associated infections. Purchased between 2013 and 2017 for £350 a pop they’re worth a staggering £1.2million in total and although they were thought to be more hygienic than the standard version, (since there weren’t any blades on which dust and germs could gather) new NHS guidance has warned that they act as what has been termed a 'reservoir for micro-organisms'. Bladed fans are now deemed safer. They’re a lot less expensive too.
NHS reports show that the incidences of healthcare acquired infections are rising year on year. Worryingly, the number increased by 20% last year alone. Clearly the figures are not just down to the type of fans being used and much more needs to be done to stop the spread of these infections. My view is that something also needs to be done about NHS procurement. I’m sure it wouldn’t be in such financial crisis if the money it did spend was spent more wisely. Fans, in a hospital, violently wafting the air around? Whatever their cost, surely they’re not the best things to have in a hospital environment… Why not just turn the heating down or open some windows instead?
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28th November 2019