Parliament: Parliament

Latex in the New Royal Adelaide Hospital

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: My questions are to the Minister for Health:

  1. If the new Royal Adelaide Hospital is, as the minister claims, a world-class facility, why is it not a completely latex-free environment?
  2. Why did a constituent of my office with a latex allergy recently have multiple staff members enter their room wearing latex gloves when her inpatient room had a latex allergy patient sign on the door?
  3. Why was an allergy alert sticker on the front of my constituent’s case notes apparently ignored by nurses and doctors?
  4. Why is it that the surgery theatre areas are latex free and the rest of the hospital is not?
  5. How are patients expected to attend the NRAH for follow-up appointments and feel safe that they will not have an anaphylactic reaction to latex gloves, given the rather lax current practices around latex allergies?
  6. Why do nurses at the NRAH appear not to know or understand that latex allergy is airborne and contact spread?
  7. Is the minister aware that it would be a cost-neutral exercise to make the NRAH latex free?
  8. Is the minister aware that up to 5 per cent of the South Australian population is allergic to latex?
  9. Is the minister aware that up to 17 per cent of healthcare workers have an occupational allergy to latex?
  10. Is the minister aware that people can develop a latex allergy after repeated exposure?
  11. Is the minister aware that other state government health care facilities, such as the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, are already latex minimised and that SA Ambulance uses latex-free nitrile gloves as the standard? Why is this not the case in other health facilities?
  12. Has the minister read the August 2017 media release from not-for-profit organisation Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity (globalaai), expressing serious concerns about the presence of latex at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Health, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse): I thank the honourable member for her question. Let me start with the last subsection of her question first because I can probably answer that the most definitively: no, I haven’t read the media release from August, but I would be happy to get my office to get a copy of it so that I can familiarise myself with it. I am going to have to take all of those questions on notice and seek some advice around the exact status of the latex-free issue in and around the NRAH. I am more than happy to take that on notice and get the honourable member some answers as quickly as we can.

One thing I would say is that, as a principle, when it comes to matters of a clinical nature we naturally always act on the advice of our clinicians where we can and make sure that we are getting the best possible public policy outcome. However, I can’t profess to be acutely familiar with the issue, but I am happy to avail myself of the information and get some information to the honourable member where we can. Of course, if she has a specific constituent who is concerned about this issue and is raising concerns with her office, we are more than happy to try to facilitate some information for them as well.