Get involved

Are you glove aware?

Organisation: All
Location: Sussex 

Circular Economy

What's the idea?

While PPE is important in helping to prevent infection, this can create a significant amount of single-use plastic waste. Between 25 February 2020 and 24 February 2021, 5.5 billion gloves were used in the NHS and social care in England alone. However, there are a number of situations in which gloves may not be appropriate so long as high standards of hand hygiene are kept. Ensuring that gloves are used only when necessary will help to reduce the amount of waste produced by the NHS. 

The Royal College of Nursing is raising awareness of medical gloves and when it is necessary to use them. This includes: 

  • During contact with blood/bodily fluids, non-intact skins, or mucus membranes. In contact with chemical hazards, such as disinfectants, preserving agents, or cytotoxic drugs. 
  • When in an operating theatre or carrying out a high risk procedure, in these scenarios, it is recommended to double glove. 

This campaign also highlights the importance of hand hygiene in providing care.

Hands doing a thumbs up, wearing white medical gloves

Impact of the project

Reduce single-use plastic

The College has created a list of scenarios where gloves are optional, which will help to reduce the use of single-use plastic when providing care.
Hands making a heart shape, wearing blue medical gloves

Protecting clinicians' skin

Excessive glove use can be harmful to hands and can cause dry or inflamed skin or dermatitis, so this will help clinicians with their own health.
Hand with dry, cracked skin

More skin-to-skin contact with vulnerable patients

Not wearing gloves will allow those providing care to have skin-to-skin contact with their patients, a source of human contact that is vital when you are in a vulnerable position.
A close up of a medical professional holding the hand of a patient

How you could implement a similar idea

Using gloves only when they are needed can significantly reduce the use of disposable medical gloves. The Royal College of nursing suggests the below changes as a good place to start: 

  • to not use gloves to give vaccinations 
  • to not use gloves when feeding people 
  • to not use gloves when entering a patient's home  
  • to not use gloves automatically when giving IV medication 
  • to not use gloves when comforting patients

Resources to get you started

If you're interested but would like a bit more understanding around glove use or reducing PPE waste, check out these links for more information and inspiration:

What else can I do?

Already got an idea?