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NHS faces delay in implementing new needlestick rules

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NHS Employers is unlikely to recommend that the NHS implement new European guidelines on needlestick injuries until at least 2011.

As reported by Nursing Times last week, the European Federation of Public Service Unions and HOSPEEM, the European hospital and healthcare employers’ association, have agreed on measures to reduce the risk of needlestick injuries, which are expected to become European law before the end of the year.

Speaking last week Karen Jennings, UNISON’s head of health, called on the NHS to ‘take the initiative’ and ‘start using safer needles and adopting the new prevention guidelines across the UK now’.

But a spokesperson from NHS Employers told Nursing Times that the NHS was already compliant with high standards of needlestick and sharps usage, and that it would not be taking immediate action following the agreement.

He said that even if the new agreement became an EU directive it would still have to be ‘transposed into UK legislation’ and that this was not likely to happen until 2011.

‘NHS Employer’s view is that the NHS already complies to the highest standards and proper risk assessments are already in place,’ he said.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • While the area I work in has been generally good about preventing needlesticks, I recently had a blood test and there was no needle guard on the vacutainer needle. The phlebotomist was being put at risk as she would have no idea of the history of her patients unlike my area where we have recent HIV and Hep C status for 95% of all of our patients. It is not acceptable to delay two years when many of the solutions to the problem are already cheaply available.

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