Swift action by the Southern District Health Board to
withdraw mobile oral health units potentially contaminated by
formaldehyde has been praised.
Public Service Association southern region organiser Julie
Morton said yesterday the board's handling of the matter was
The board, which has been criticised in the past by unions
for a lack of communication, had been upfront about the
''For once I can say ... that the DHB is responding
absolutely as they should.
''It's nice to be able to say they have done exactly what I
would have asked them to do, had I needed to.''
Staff were told on Thursday afternoon. Mrs Morton had been
unable to attend, but had not heard from members since, which
suggested they did not hold fears about health effects.
The seven oral health units, used to provide dental care to
children, were withdrawn for testing after a unit of the same
design in Canterbury was found to contain high levels of
The board said the risk to the general public was negligible.
For staff the risk was low, although some might have
experienced itchy eyes, headache or a sore throat. In some
cases, it could worsen pre-existing conditions like asthma.
The affected units were brought into service between March
2010 and April 2013.
On Thursday, the board said it expected them to be out of
service for about 10 days.
The source of contamination in the Canterbury unit was
thought to be suspended ceiling tiles, and the board was
working through a process to replace the tiles in the
Southern units, medical officer of health Dr Marion Poore