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Hospital chemicals gave nurse asthma; NHS Trust pays out pounds 146,000.

Byline: David Powell

A FORMER theatre nurse was awarded pounds 146,000 compensation yesterday after developing asthma through her job at a North Wales hospital.

Wendy Mitchelmore, of Hermon, Anglesey, had to retire at the age of 36 after suffering health problems due to exposure to glutaraldehyde - a disinfectant used to clean equipment - at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.

Gwynedd Hospital NHS Trust accepted liability for unacceptable levels of exposure to the chemical and failure to carry out a proper risk assessment of hospital equipment.

Mrs Mitchelmore worked for Gwynedd Hospital NHS Trust from 1989 until she retired on medical grounds in January, 2000.

Mrs Mitchelmore said: ``It was a real shock to have to retire from my job at the age of 36. I've always been in nursing, training as a nurse and as a midwife. It's sad that I no longer can do the job I loved.''

Since retiring in 2000, Mrs Mitchelmore has obtained other work, which does not aggravate her asthma.

A mitigated claim was submitted for a continuing partial loss of earnings, pension losses and her handicap on the open labour market arising from her injury.

Gwynedd Hospital NHS Trust was one of the trusts which later formed North West Wales NHS Trust.

Last night, North West Wales NHS Trust spokesman Alan Parry said glutaraldehyde was no longer used to clean theatre equipment.

He said: ``This incident occurred in 1997 and this Trust no longer uses this chemical.''

In fact, Ysbyty Gwynedd was the first hospital in Europe to introduce an alternative disinfectant called Sterilox which does not contain glutaraldehyde.

Mr Parry added: ``However, we sympathise with Wendy Mitchelmore's predicament.''

Sheelagh Brewer, Royal College of Nursing Senior Employment Relations Adviser said yesterday: ``This case highlights the need to protect health care workers from the dangers of substances such as glutaraldehyde.

L Glutaraldehyde is a powerful, cold disinfectant used to sterilise hospital equipment and can sensitise skin, lungs and the respiratory system.
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Comment:Hospital chemicals gave nurse asthma; NHS Trust pays out pounds 146,000.(News)
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUW
Date:Aug 30, 2002
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