How can a simple alcohol hand rub cause such controversy? You apply it, bacteria and viruses on your hands are killed and all is well.

Let’s look closer at the first one; you apply it. Simple, when it’s done. In reality, healthcare workers in places like hospitals only apply alcohol rubs once every couple of hours. Imagine a busy hospital with hectic staff rushing about. How many contaminated sites can they touch in two hours? Too many.

If you want to know why they don’t use alcohol rubs, why not just ask them? To obtain honest answers you need good rapport and the nurses need to trust you have their best interests in mind. I had that and was not surprised by their answers – alcohol stings and if there is any damage to the skin on their hands, it stings even more. Alcohol is a flammable solvent. In other sectors it’s used as an industrial solvent to degrease equipment and electrical components. So why do they expect nurses to apply it to their hands many times a day? Is someone trying to hurt our nurses?

Let’s look at the second “simple” step; it kills whatever bacteria or viruses are on the hands. Wrong, for two reasons. First, if it’s not applied it won’t kill anything. Second, it evaporates before it has killed bacterial spores and Norovirus. So even when it is applied, there are harmful microbes that it won’t kill anyway. Is someone trying to kill patients?

Now the third step; all is well. Try telling that to a family when they’ve just lost a loved one to a lethal hospital infection. To them, all is not well. Am I being overly dramatic? No. In Britain alone we kill thousands of innocent patients with needless infections every year. Infection control professionals argue over whether they kill two thousand or five thousand. Either way, it’s thousands. Is someone trying to cause this carnage?

I don’t believe anyone is deliberately setting out to hurt nurses, kill patients or create carnage. The reality is they just aren’t willing to see that safe alcohol-free alternatives exist. The ongoing debate around why they won’t see it is on the blog.

Let’s move to the happier setting of normal domestic homes. Do you want to rely on a flammable solvent that damages hands and doesn’t kill the microbes? Is that what you want for your family and especially children? I hope not. That’s why we developed NewGenn Foam Hand Rub as it contains no alcohol, has a gentle effect on hands and is part of our system to fix damaged skin. Now that is simple as people love to use it, microbes are controlled and all is well.

I’m having real difficulties guiding medical authorities to acknowledge their own facts and move on from alcohol rubs. Aren’t you glad it’s so much easier for you in your happy family setting?

Dr Harley Farmer PhD BVSc(hons) BVBiol(path) MRCVS

Campaigner, optimist, provider of choices, happy person.

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