DoH urged to adopt EU needlestick injury guidance

Unison has urged the DoH to adopt European Union guidelines to protect staff to prevent sharps injuries after a campaign by the union.

The health union has fought to end the agony of sharps and needlestick injuries in the NHS, estimated to be as high as 100,000 a year.

Karen Jennings, Unison's head of health, led negotiations between the European Federation of Public Service Unions and HOSPEEM, the European hospital and healthcare employers' association.

The framework agreement aims to prevent the incidence of injuries with contaminated sharps, protect the workers at risk and establish appropriate response and follow up policies in cases where those injuries occur.

Ms Jennings said: ‘Subjecting thousands of NHS workers every year to the terror of dirty needles is unnecessary and inhumane, when safer needles are available and cost very little more.

‘Instead of losing time while the legislation goes through Europe, the DoH should take the initiative and start using safer needles and adopting the new prevention guidelines across the UK now.'

An NHS Employers spokesman said: 'Safe and productive workplaces are a core priority for NHS organisations.  Staff will be protected by ensuring a proper risk assessment takes place.  After this has taken place appropriate action needs to be considered to prevent injuries and infections from needlesticks.  This will be considered at a local level.  NHS Employers welcomes the recent agreement, in which NHS Employers played a key role.  We believe this agreement will help protect both staff and patients across the European Union.  The UK already complies with the highest standards.'

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