Unison claims staff are at risk over needles

NHS trusts are putting short-term costs ahead of the long-term health
protection of their staff by failing to use safe needles that protect against
needlestick injuries, the health workers’ union Unison has said.

The survey of Unison branches around the country found that while 94 per
cent of employers were aware of safer needles, just two-thirds were involved in
testing or evaluating them.

Other findings included that where trusts were piloting or evaluating safe
needles, 76 per cent said they had set up a committee to monitor progress, 30
per cent had increased or improved training and 26 per cent had started
campaigns to raise awareness.

New sharp bins had been introduced at 13 per cent of the trusts surveyed.

Unison national officer Jon Richards said that while it was encouraging that
68 per cent are testing or evaluating safer needles, short-term cost
implications are often given as the reason why others are failing to act.

"However, any cost savings can be very short-lived when the costs of
testing staff, lost work time, personal injury claims and other medical costs
are added up," he said.

There are an estimated 100,000 needlestick injuries in the UK each year.
Unison is campaigning for a ban on old-fashioned, unsafe needles and the
nationwide introduction of needles that are retractable or have protective
shields.

www.unison.org.uk

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