Scotland’s largest health board has been told to remove plastic bin liners from all its mental health wards after two patients took their own lives.
The Health and Safety Executive took the unusual step as part of an investigation into deaths at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow and Dykebar Hospital in Paisley. Both patients suffocated.
The watchdog issued a prohibition notice to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to ensure plastic bin bags were removed from all mental health wards by 16 April.
“Following a full investigation into a tragic suicide in 2012 and a subsequent suicide in 2014, the HSE recommended the removal of small bin liners in our mental health wards,” the health board said in a statement. “NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has fully complied with this recommendation.”
The move, which affected 15 hospitals and inpatient facilities, has raised questions about the use of bin liners in mental health wards across Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume said: “NHS Scotland must now move swiftly to consider whether this is an appropriate measure to adopt across Scotland’s health boards.”
A spokeswoman from the Health and Safety Executive told Nursing Times it would also be contacting NHS officials in England and Wales in order to discuss the issue.
“Our immediate actions have so far been focused on these two investigations,” she said. “NHS boards in Scotland are responsible for managing their own risks to staff, patients and visitors and we would expect those operating mental health wards to manage those risks proportionately and in line with their own risk assessments and procedures.
“HSE will be contacting NHS Scotland officials to discuss appropriate standards across the board and similar contacts will be made in England and Wales,” she added.