There is a hospital in Harlow Pain relief gas and air return For women due to the air quality of its maternity unit after high levels of nitrous oxide were found.

Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex is the latest to withdraw the treatment. Basildon Hospital is being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive amid concerns staff are being exposed to high levels of nitrous oxide used in antonox (gas and air).

While Antonox gas and air are considered safe for pregnant women and their babies, prolonged exposure to high levels of the gas may pose a health risk to employees.

Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Alex Field, divisional director at Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We have temporarily suspended the use of Entonox in the maternity unit to protect our midwifery and medical team.”

The trust has ordered mobile ventilation units to remove nitrous oxide and hopes to be able to provide gas and air to pregnant women as soon as possible. “There is no risk to people attending, staying or visiting the hospital,” he added.

Basildon Hospital, run by Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, is the latest NHS trust to carry out an environmental audit of its maternity suites. Temporarily stopped using gas In December 2022, while new ventilation units were installed.

A spokesman for the Royal College of Midwives said: “We have been contacted by midwife members who have experienced a range of symptoms related to exposure to Antonax. [gas and air]. Research at Basildon Hospital has revealed exposure levels in maternity wards exceed legal limits. We are investigating these issues with our lawyers to support our members in potential claims; and reported the issues to the HSE who are also conducting their own investigation.”

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A spokesman for the HSE said: “We are investigating nitrous oxide levels following concerns raised by staff. Mid and South Essex University Trust identified high levels during its own air sampling.

Employers are required to protect workers from exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace, conduct risk assessments and put in place control measures to adequately control exposure. A limit of 100ppm for nitrous oxide has been in place since 1996, he added.

A spokesman for Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have followed all the expert advice given to us to deal with the issue of nitrous oxide in the air in the maternity unit at Basildon Hospital.

“Significant improvements have been made and it is completely safe for service users and their families to continue to use the maternity unit as normal. We have taken steps to resolve the situation and an investigation is underway.

“Our employees are supported and mentored. Mitigations have been put in place based on clinical recommendations, and we continue to keep our staff informed. “

There is also Ipswich Hospital Stopped giving gas and air Nitrous oxide levels were higher in some distribution areas after an environmental audit National guidelines.

Dr Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Ipswich Hospital, said: “We fully understand the concerns of women and pregnant people who want to have a hospital birth using gas and air (nitrous oxide). ). Until a safe and effective solution is found, we are unable to restart gas and air to ensure the safety of our obstetric team.”

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Val Wilcox, practice and quality manager at the childbirth charity, NCT, said: “Women who give birth in hospitals where Entonox is suspended may be concerned about how it may affect them. There are no long-term health risks for laboring women using Entonox. We advise women who wish to use Entonox to We would encourage you to talk to a midwife or hospital trust about alternative pain relief options or to consider transferring your care to another hospital.


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