UNISON the UK's largest public sector union, is calling on hospitals to use safer needles to protect their staff, following the case of a care assistant who was stuck in the leg by a needle at Kettering General Hospital, Kettering. 

Mrs Y, aged 39, who does not wish to be named, was left with a horrendous three-month wait for the results of blood tests for HIV and Hepatitis. Fortunately she has been cleared of any blood-borne diseases. 

Mrs Y was stuck with the needle while putting rubbish in a bin. A plastic bag containing eight needles had been discarded on the floor next to it, instead of in the sharps bin. 

UNISON has long campaigned for the introduction of safer systems such as retractable needles, self-blunting devices or those with protective shields.

Thompsons Solicitors pursued her claim for compensation

Mrs Y contacted her union, UNISON after the accident who instructed their lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue her claim. 

Kettering General Hospital settled out of court and agreed to pay £6,500 compensation. 

Mrs Y said: “Words cannot describe the way I felt while waiting for the results of those tests. I have a young daughter and kept wondering what would happen to her if the results confirmed I had been infected with HIV. That needle should have been discarded properly. 

“By pursuing compensation I hope I have raised awareness of this issue.”

Compensation for months of suffering

Lilian Greenwood, UNISON Senior Regional Organiser, West Midlands said: “I am pleased that UNISON has been able to get some compensation for Mrs Y, but she should never have been put through these months of suffering. 

“The vast majority of needlestick injuries could be prevented if trusts switched to using safer needles. The difference in cost is pennies and not using them is a false economy. 

“It is estimated there are 100,000 injuries every year and they lead to a range of expensive tests for diseases, time off work, compensation claims and more importantly a great deal of both physical and mental pain and anguish.”

Brendan Quinn from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Hospitals have a duty of care to ensure that their employees and members of the public are safe from incidents like this. 

“Any workplace where needles are in use should have a strict policy to make sure they are discarded appropriately. Additionally, checks and balances need to be in place to ensure the policies are working in practice.”