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Laundry industry steps in to support healthcare sector

Laundry industry steps in to support healthcare sector

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented levels of healthcare laundry, both from the NHS and from care homes. Now, a new fast-track certification scheme has been launched which allows specialist hospitality laundries to step in to assist. More than 30 laundries have already stepped into offer their support.

In a bid to help keep up with the number of garments needed each week, the Interim Healthcare Laundry Certification (IHLC) has been put in place to ensure that commercial laundries meet the requirements of the Department of Health’s technical memorandum HTM 01-04: Decontamination of Linen for Health and Social Care. The scheme ensures that essential items such as gowns, bed linen, towels and uniforms are readily available to healthcare workers, with decontamination and proper laundering assured.

This certification means that commercial laundries looking to help deal with the growing amount of linens and textiles created by the healthcare sector can demonstrate that they meet all relevant standards. Holding this certification also confirms that the laundry in question can consistently decontaminate healthcare linen and manage related risks to patient safety.

Moving from reusable to washable PPE
The disposal of single use items such as face masks has led to the term ‘PPE pollution’. Such is the scale of the issue, predictions from the Plastic Waste Innovation Hub warn of a potential 66,000 tonnes of contaminated waste being created from face coverings alone in 2020. This figure will only grow as long as COVID-19 remains an imminent threat.

There is another benefit of the Interim Healthcare Laundry Certification too – it gives the hospitality laundry sector a much-needed lift, as many businesses saw their workload vanish overnight with the closure of hotels during lockdown.

As the hospitality sector gradually begins to regain some traction as restrictions on travel ease slightly, many of the guidelines for the industry include less regular changes to bedsheets and towels to protect hospitality workers. This, in turn, creates less workload for commercial laundries, freeing up capacity. Filling this gap with items from the healthcare sector creates a mutually beneficial relationship that not only guarantees a ready supply of clean, correctly sanitised PPE and linens and a regular influx of work for hospitality laundry staff, it also assists the UK Government in its target to move towards reusable PPE and reduce clinical waste.

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