Health warning after ‘laughing gas’ bottles theft

AN anaesthetist has warned of the danger of consuming pure nitrous oxide, after cylinders of the gas were stolen from the Conquest Hospital.

The gas, which is used in operating theatres to anaesthetise patients, is also sometimes used recreationally as ‘laughing gas’, because of the effects that it produces.

Dr Barry Phillips, consultant anaesthetist, said: “Nitrous oxide is only ever used for medical purposes when it is mixed with oxygen.

“Taking 100 per cent nitrous oxide starves the brain of oxygen for a short period of time, and is dangerous and should be avoided.”

At around 2.40am last Thursday (November 10), 11 cylinders were taken from a secure holding area, at the hospital, on The Ridge.

A spokesman for the Conquest said: “Since then, we have increased the security in the area.”

The theft amounted to about £270 worth of the gas, which was stored in blue cylinders marked ‘Medical Nitrous Oxide’, six of which were 5ft long, and five of which were 3ft long.

The theft could have potentially delayed operations the following day.

Another use of nitrous oxide gas outside of hospitals, is in modified vehicles to provide a short term power increase for racing.

However, this was discounted as a likely reason for the theft, by Alan Zini, of JRM Sumo Power, in Rye.

He said only the 3ft long canisters could possibly fit inside a car.

Mr Zini added: “The fact that they took the 5ft bottles precludes its use in automotive vehicles.”

Police are investigating the incident and reviewing CCTV footage.

PC Duncan Cleverley said: “We would ask anyone with information about this theft, or anyone who knows where these gas cylinders are to please get in touch.”

Anyone with information can contact the police on 101.