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Waste staff hurt by needles

PUBLISHED: 10:04 21 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 03 July 2010

A COUNTYWIDE campaign to educate householders on the proper disposal of medical needles has been launched after six staff at a Norfolk waste sorting centre were pricked by discarded sharps.

A COUNTYWIDE campaign to educate householders on the proper disposal of medical needles has been launched after six staff at a Norfolk waste sorting centre were pricked by discarded sharps.

Special boxes need to be used to dispose of needles and safely returned to GP surgeries rather than simply being put in recycling bins, which is happening across the county.

The Norfolk Waste Partnership (NWP), made up of all the districts and the city and county councils, is working with NHS Norfolk to promote the use of the boxes which can be obtained as part of a prescription.

“We have had six members of staff pricked with needles in five years - which is six staff too many,” said Steve Jenkins from the Norfolk Environmental Waste Services recycling plant at Costessey.

“Last year, we had 1,300 incidents where we had to stop to remove medical sharps from the sorting line.

“However, of greater importance to us is the risk to staff. They face a year wait to be given the all-clear and six to eight weeks for the initial test results.”

Medical needles include items such as insulin injecting pens, syringes, finger prick lancets used to check glucose levels, and adrenalin treatments for severe allergies.

GP surgeries in the NHS Norfolk area run a free collection service for sharps boxes from medical users, so patients need to take the sharps box in to the surgery and they will dispose of the contents.

Posters and leaflets will be put up in GP surgeries to make people aware of how they can safely dispose of their medical sharps when they have finished with them.

The campaign will also be running in the Yarmouth Borough Council area, supported by NHS Yarmouth and Waveney.

For more information, call the NHS Norfolk Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 0800 587 4132.


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