A charity which supports victims and their families who have been killed by or are suffering the long term health effects of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is calling on members of the healthcare profession to join its specialist action group being set up to develop greater understanding of the problem.
It is hoped that by involving medical practitioners across a range of disciplines, all with direct experience of CO poisoning incidents, the group can develop more robust healthcare guidelines to aid the diagnosis and treatment of victims.
Lynn Griffiths, president of the CO-Awareness charity explains: "Carbon monoxide is the most common poison in the UK today, yet there is still no medical support for those poisoned by this chemical and it is still not even routinely tested for at post mortems.
"We need to make sure that the entire medical profession, from the primary care trusts, through paramedics, A&E staff, doctors and nurses down to the social services, takes responsibility for ensuring the public's safety against exposure to CO in order to avoid serious problems or death."
The charity believes that by pooling the expertise and experience of frontline healthcare professionals with that of other interested parties such as the Department of Health, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the fire service, and identifying some consistent findings and themes, the group can start to exert influence on key legislative and industry targets.
Amongst those already getting involved in the group are Alex Stewart, a consultant in health protection for the HPA, and medical advisor to the charity, Dr Ed Walker who commented:
"Although CO has poisoned people in their homes and workplaces for decades, it seems that the medical profession is less aware than ever of the symptoms and proper management of cases. The work that the CO-Awareness carries out in relation to this is invaluable."
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"CO is a silent killer. As an air quality practitioner I have come across several cases in the past, some tragic. I'd be interested in seeing what else Westminster Council could/should be doing to assist" - Steve Neville, Westminster City Hall, London
"We at CO-Gas Safety (a registered charity launched in 1995) very much support Lynn's excellent iniative. We totally agree that medics need to be made more aware of carbon monoxide poisoning and we are horrified at the lack of toxicologists willing to support victims. We do hope that more medics come forward to help with this work. However, it would be even better if people were made more aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and how to prevent poisoning in the first place. In 2000, the Health and Safety Commission recommended a levy on the gas suppliers to pay for raising awareness and for research but this has not been implemented by government. Why not? Also, we are constantly contacted by people who suspect they have been poisoned by CO yet cannot obtain proof for under £1,800 even if they know where to go to obtain an investigation, which most do not. Again, HSC recommended that the Gas Emergency Service carry and use equipment to test appliances for CO. Again this has not been implemented. How can people prevent being poisoned by an invisible, odourless deadly gas which cannot seen or heard and which most people do not even know exists? Please contact your Member of Parliament and urge them to ask government to implement the recommendations made by the HSC (now Health and Safety Executive). What is the point of having the HSE if their work is ignored?" - Stephanie Trotter
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