Allmers H, Brehler R, Chen Z Reduction of latex aero-allergens and latex-specific IgE antibodies in sensitized workers after removal of powdered natural rubber latex gloves in a hospital. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1998; 102:(5)841-846

Anaphylaxis Campaign. Latex allergy: the facts. 2019. (accessed 3 September 2020)

Barrow JM, Annamaraju P, Toney-Butler TJ. Change management.Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020

Bowen CM, Stanton M, Manno M. Using diffusion of innovations theory to implement the confusion assessment method for the intensive care unit. J Nurs Care Qual. 2012; 27:(2)139-145

Hatchett R, Coady E. Writing a business plan to support a cardiac service. British Journal of Cardiac Nursing. 2013; 8:(4)190-192

Health and Safety Executive. Latex allergies in health and social care. 2020. (accessed 2 September 2020)

Henry N, Icot R, Jeffery S. The benefits of latex-free gloves in the operating room environment. Br J Nurs. 2020; 29:(10)570-576

Isle of Wight NHS Trust. Latex Management Policy. 2018. (accessed 29 September 2020)

NHS hospitals save £400,000 by switching to same brand of surgical gloves. 2018. (accessed 28 October 2020)

Loveday HP, Wilson JA, Pratt RJ epic3: National evidence-based guidelines for preventing healthcare-associated infections in NHS hospitals in England. J Hosp Infect. 2014; 86S1:S1-S70

NHS England. Sustainable Improvement Team. The change model guide. 2018. (accessed 4 September 2020)

Nienhaus A, Kromark K, Raulf-Heimsoth M, van Kampen V, Merget R. Outcome of occupational latex allergy—work ability and quality of life. PLoS One. 2008; 3:(10)

Phillips VL, Goodrich MA, Sullivan TJ. Health care worker disability due to latex allergy and asthma: a cost analysis. Am J Public Health. 1999; 89:(7)1024-1028

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. Latex Allergy & Dermatitis: Prevention And Management In Health Care Workers. 2019. (accessed 29 September 2020)

Power S, Gallagher J, Meaney S. Quality of life in health care workers with latex allergy. Occupat Med. 2010; 60:62-65

Royal College of Physicians. Latex allergy: occupational aspects of management. 2008. (accessed 2 September 2020)

UNISON. Latex Allergy Nurse Awarded £354,000 Compensation. 2004. (accessed 29 September 2020)

Considering the switch to a latex-free glove policy to safeguard staff and patients

12 November 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 20


While it is difficult to imagine that before the late 1800s, surgeons in the theatre environment operated on patients without gloves, gloves are now a clinical necessity. Their use has risen exponentially over the last 30 years, along with concerns over staff and patient allergy and sensitivity to the natural rubber latex proteins used in their manufacture. Having used latex gloves for the better part of 35 years, the author recently evaluated a latex-free alternative. In this article, which presents a rationale for the introduction of a latex-free glove policy across NHS departments and trusts, particularly in theatre settings, the author presents his experience, together with cases from four other surgeons, as well as evidence from the literature regarding potential clinical outcomes, quality of life and cost-effectiveness associated with latex-free gloves.

The need for gloves to achieve asepsis is a given in modern healthcare. However, allergy to the natural rubber latex (NRL) proteins used in their manufacture emerged as an occupational disease in the 1980s (Royal College of Physicians (RCP), 2008). Unfortunately, the powder used to increase the ease of donning only exacerbates this problem because the protein powder reacts with the latex in the glove (RCP, 2008). While lower-protein gloves are now widely used and powder-free gloves are commonplace in healthcare settings in the UK, glove use has risen exponentially to provide protection from occupational exposure to blood-borne viruses (RCP, 2008).

There is evidence that the introduction of a latex-free glove policy would not only reduce latex sensitisation (Allmers et al, 1998) among staff, but also assure clinical outcomes, improve quality of life (Power et al, 2010) and provide a cost-effective solution (Phillips et al, 1999; Henry et al, 2020). The author is a long-time user of standard latex gloves (except in cases of allergy); however, his personal experience of having evaluated a high-quality brand of latex-free gloves supports the rationale presented within this article for the consideration of a new latex-free glove policy within NHS departments and trusts.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • Unlimited access to the latest news, blogs and video content