OH must help ease nurse fears of contracting HIV or hepatitis

Nearly half of NHS nurses live in fear of contracting HIV or hepatitis at work because of injuries from needles or other sharp instruments, with one in five worrying about it daily, an RCN survey has revealed.

The Royal College of Nursing has also warned that, once nurses are injured, they face a postcode lottery when it comes to getting support, with some hospitals operating very good procedures while others are less well prepared.

The Suffering in Silence survey found that 41% of more than 500 hospital and primary care nurses polled said contracting HIV or hepatitis was their greatest workplace fear.

OH nurses needed to focus on preventative measures as much dealing with incidents, suggested Sheelagh Brewer, RCN senior employment relations adviser.

“There is still a great deal of under-reporting of needlestick injuries. OH could be looking at systems whereby it is collecting enough information to know where the problems are,” she said.

About 100,000 healthcare workers are estimated to suffer needlestick injuries in the UK each year, and at least five cases of such workers contracting HIV as a result have been recorded.

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