Councils join forces with Liverpool to lobby for better sunbed standards

Local authority representatives from across England will gather in Liverpool on Monday 29 September to support the city council’s campaign to amend legislation to enable it to license sunbed salons.

Liverpool City Council, led by cancer lead, Councillor Roy Gladden, has called together a range of speakers including Liverpool MP and Shadow Public Health Minister Luciana Berger and representatives from Cancer Research UK to a conference aimed at drawing attention to their lack of powers regarding sunbed salons.

Invited partners from public health, environmental health and trading standards are being asked to join forces to lobby the government on this issue.

The conference is part of the city council’s national lobbying campaign calling on the Government to give every local authority in England the power to license and regulate sunbed businesses, to help halt a sharp rise in skin cancer. It is supported by Cancer Research UK and the British Association of Dermatologists.

England currently trails behind local authorities in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, who already have the power to ensure that businesses educate users about the risks of sunbed use. In England, only Nottinghamshire and London are able to license sunbed businesses to ensure that they take steps to protect the health of their customers.

Campaigners in Liverpool say lives will be saved if the council is given powers to license sunbed salons to ensure they are practicing the recommended health and safety standards to limit the damage that sunbeds can cause.

It comes as the city’s skin cancer clinics come under increased pressure due to the numbers of people requiring treatment. Since 2000, the number of new cases of malignant melanoma in females in Liverpool has increased by 129%, more than double the increase seen nationally.

Health professionals say the popularity of sunbed use in Liverpool and the prevalence of hundreds of unregulated salons presents a ticking health time bomb.

“This is an extremely worrying public health issue that not only affects Liverpool but many other areas across the country,” said Councillor Roy Gladden, Assistant Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, who will address the conference.

“This conference is an important part of our campaign as it brings together our counterparts from local authorities across England to support a co-ordinated response from stakeholders in lobbying for change.

A recent report by Cancer Research UK revealed that rates of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, are five times higher in the UK than they were in the 1970’s and Chit Selvarajah from the charity will speak about skin cancer and sunbed use at the conference.

Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree and Shadow Minister for Public Health, who is supporting the campaign and will also address the conference, said: “Nationally we have seen an increase in skin cancer incidence rates and here in Liverpool they have risen faster than elsewhere in the country. This is a critical public health issue for our city and one that I’m glad Liverpool Council is taking so seriously.

“This conference is an important opportunity to discuss with experts how we can make the sunbed industry safer and ensure that people are fully informed of all the risks.”

Liverpool City Council is asking for local authorities in England to have the option to introduce a local licensing scheme that would require sunbed businesses to follow a minimum number of health, safety and good practice guidelines.

A ten-point charter has been drawn up by the Council:

• People at increased risk of skin cancer should not be allowed to use sunbeds (such as those with fair skin or family history of skins cancer)
• Prescribed health information/warnings should be displayed advising customers of the health risks of using sunbeds
• Ensure that current sunbed legislation prohibiting under 18s from using sunbeds is enforced through a scheme such as Challenge 21
• Sunbeds must be used under the supervision of appropriately trained staff (unmanned/coin operated sunbeds prohibited)
• Protective goggles must be provided and worn by customers
• Customers should be advised verbally of the health risks of sunbed use
• Information implying a health benefit from sunbed use cannot be provided or displayed
• Limits should be placed upon the number and length of sunbed sessions
• Recorded evidence that equipment has been maintained and compliant with European Safety Standards should be kept
• Operators should ensure they fulfill Health and Safety Executive guidance in relation to the welfare o their employees

The conference takes place at The Foresight Centre.