Health and Social Care Bill

Memorandum submitted by The Bed Bug Foundation (HS 128)

1. We write with reference to the Health and Social Care Bill that is currently being discussed. Following your request for relevant experience and expertise, we feel that we could positively contribute to developments and as such would like to be included as a representative for public health pests, specifically with the increasing populations of Bed Bugs.

2. The Bed Bug Foundation was set up during the second half of 2010 in response to the increasing levels of infestations seen across the United Kingdom and the lack of understanding and comprehension from members of the public. The Foundation received charity status towards the end of 2010 as an independent provider of education and awareness documents for the management of Bed Bugs to the general public and both the accommodation and pest management industry.

3. This is a global issues and the recent media interest in America, especially New York has demonstrated the need from all responsible parties, to understand how this pest has affected various nations. Australia had a reported 4,500% increase in Bed Bug infestations between 1999 and 2006. The total cost of these infestations is estimated at around AUS$ 100,000,000.00

4. Studies completed in London between 2002 and 2007 found a 26% year on year increase for Bed Bug related matters. We are currently embarking to update these statistics; however we know that these figures will have dramatically increased. Initial predications on cost are anecdotal, but it will certainly be hundreds of thousands of pounds, potentially millions.

5. In the past, articles have largely focused on the direct health impact both from the bite and the potential of Bed Bugs to spread infectious diseases, which we know is (currently) nil. However, the indirect impact of Bed Bugs, both in terms of the mental health and also the environmental impact through the unwarranted use and overuse of insecticides, has not been explored.

6. The Foundation has an increasing number of comments from those who have been suffering with long-term Bed Bug infestations. Unfortunately these infestations have been inadequately treated over the past few month or even years, many ‘professionals’ mis-identifying the infestations as Varied Carpet Beetle (Anthrenus verbasci) or even juvenile cockroaches (oriental or germanica).

7. This is not just causing added frustration to those individuals who have the infestations, the amount of time we have heard ‘they returned after eight to ten weeks’ is frightening and the cost of destroyed furniture must far outweigh the actual cost of effective treatments.

8. Stress, in relation to pest infestations, was recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2008 as a significant detrimental effect on human health. While that report was not directly associated with Bed Bugs, sleep deprived stress as a result from Bed Bugs is increasing and this is leading to anxiety, depression and long-term psychological mental health impact.

9. The unknown cost (at this time) is potentially far more serious. For example the Foundation has one report where an individual is receiving long-term social support , through NHS carers, and has depression. In a further two cases people have actually lost their jobs, through sleep deprivation, leading to lack of performance.

10. One was caught asleep at work as they felt this was the safest place to sleep. They are all currently receiving social care support and most of this could have been avoided if their GPs had recognised the situations and if adequate treatments had been carried out.

11. If you can’t consider these points as related to Bed Bugs - would you sleep in a bed that you knew contained insects that could suck on your blood while you slept? This is not the same as mosquitoes, it is not uncommon to have over 50 Bed Bugs in a small infestation and this is a significant loss of blood, let alone sleep.

12. Unable to leave this situation, the only course of action (for those we spoke with) was to find alternative ways to sleep – including on a plastic chair for one individual. He is now also claiming long-term sick as he is unable to work.

13. The Foundation is also starting to collect information on the environmental impact through the unwarranted or overuse of insecticides.  Cases where properties have been sprayed, with a biocide, three times in a week are not uncommon and this could have an impact on their longer-term use.  

14. The net result of this is that these individuals are taking matters into their own hands and applying a variety of concoctions (around their bed) to aid control, which cannot be beneficial for their health and of course could contribute to resistance with the Bed Bugs themselves, compounding the issues.

15. The Foundation has been asked to contribute to two workshops with the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland and this is a very positive step. REHIS is putting its actions where its mouth is and making people aware of this problem, providing information to those who may be at risk and local authorities are enforcing landlords and sources of infestations, to clean up their properties. They have the support of the Scottish Parliament and this needs to be reflected for England and Wales.

16. It is very important that if we want to eradicate Bed Bugs, we have support from legislation and possibly enforcement officers. It is the primary route by which long-term control will be gained (as it was in the 1930's) and also where qualifications and competence from the pest management industry could be implemented.  Bed Bugs are not the same as other pests whereby if enough pesticide is applied then control will be gained, if anything it is the complete reverse.

17. The Foundation has three primary aims: Awareness, Communication and Education.

17.a Raise Awareness

Improve social and professional understanding of this exposure pest

Necessity to prevent and monitor potential activity

Provide information on biology, lifecycle, etc

17.b Increase communications

Press releases

Interactive videos, news feeds and technical updates

Mobile applications / podcasts

Web Seminar sessions

17.c Deliver education

Integrated Pest Management

Code of Practice

Online / blended / Practical learning – Pest Management Professionals (PMPs)

Continued Professional Development (CPD)

18. The first draft for the European Code of Practice (ECoP) for the Management of Bed Bugs was released during March 2011 by the Bed Bug Foundation. The ECoP will cover the most effective measures currently known, which may be employed to:

Control active infestations,

Minimise the spread of active infestations,

Minimise the risk of future infestations,

Protect vulnerable parties who provide or purchase Bed Bug services or use Bed Bug products,

Provide a reference document on which other, more focused, procedures can be based.

19. Foundation Structure

Day to day operation are delivered through Oliver Madge, as Chief Operating Officer. Oliver has been involved with the Pest Management industry for over 20 years, his most recent posting being as CEO of the British Pest Control Association, which included Executive Board member of the European Pest Management Association (CEPA).

20. The board of trustees guide the general direction of the Foundation and ensure that it operates within the boundaries of the charity commission and holds a balanced and considerate independent point of view.

21. The Senate working party is constructed of acknowledged research fellows, often connected with universities, who specialise in greater understanding of Bed Bugs. This group is headed up by Dr Stephen Dogged, Department of Medical Entomology at Westmead Hospital, NSW, Australia.

22. We trust this is all the information currently required and we thank you for your time in considering this representative request. 

March 2011