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Needle Stick Injuries

Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hours were spent by NHS staff in 2002–03 (a) investigating accidents and (b) completing accident reports concerning needle stick injuries suffered by nurses and other health care staff. [127002]

The Department of Health does not collect this data centrally but has advised all national health service trusts that all accidents including needle sticks should be reported and recorded.Health and Safety legislation and good management practice requires the causes of accidents to be properly investigated to inform risk assessments and reduce the possibility of such accidents happening again.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost to the NHS was in 2002–03 of occupational sick pay, statutory sick pay and NHS injury benefits given to nurses and other health care staff who have suffered needle stick injury. [127003]

The Department of Health does not collect information on sick pay or injury benefits centrally as these are matters for individual national health service employers. Information for individual NHS trusts should be available locally.

The NHS Pensions Agency does collect data on Temporary Injury Benefit payable to staff injured during employment in the NHS. For injuries sustained before 1997 the annual costs of Personal Injury Benefit (PIB), funded centrally, are currently £38.7 million. Since 1997, PIB costs are re-charged to the NHS employer and these figures are not held centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost to the NHS was in 2002–03 of (a) counselling services and (b) loss of earnings litigation for nurses and other health care staff who suffered needle stick injury. [127004]

All staff in the national health service have access to confidential counselling services and best practice is that staff are offered counselling after accidents and injuries. Referring employees to occupational health or infection control staff, who will carry out the necessary tests to ascertain whether there has been any transmission of a blood borne virus, is usually done during working hours, as is counselling. There is no centrally held data available on the exact cost of counselling services provided by NHS employing organisations.The Department of Health does not collect data on individual litigation cases. "The National Audit Office Report A Safer Place to Work—Improving the Management of Health and Safety Risks to Staff in NHS Trusts", estimated that compensation payments cost the NHS £1.5 million in 2001–02. The average compensation payment negotiated by UNISON with NHS employers for needlesticks injuries that do not result in the transmission of blood borne viruses is currently £2,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost to the NHS was in 2002–03 of providing cover for nurses and other health care staff who have been forced to take time off for investigation, treatment and counselling as a result of blood-borne viruses contracted through needle stick injury. [127005]

Information on the cost of providing staff to cover for health care workers absent due to injury is not collected centrally by the Department of Health.In the majority of cases where there has been no transmission of a blood borne virus, the investigation, treatment and counselling associated with a needle stick injury will take place in working hours.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what emotional and psychological support is provided to nurses and other health care staff who are concerned about having been infected with a blood-borne virus contracted through needle stick injury. [127006]

National health service staff who experience a needle stick injury which they believe may result in their being infected with a blood borne virus are referred to infection control staff who carry out the necessary tests and provide advice and counselling. If the health care worker concerned requests it, they will also be referred to a counselling service.

NHS unions also provide advice and support to their members to assist them in coping with workplace injuries.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nurses a nd other health care staff who have become infected with a blood-borne virus as a result of needle stick injury have been forced to leave their employment as a result of this infection in the last five years. [127007]

Information on health care workers who have become infected with a blood borne virus is not collected centrally by the Department of Health, but should be available from individual national health service employers.Many health care workers infected with hepatitis B and health care workers infected with hepatitis C or HIV should not perform exposure prone procedures, those procedures in which injury to the health care worker could result in the worker's blood contaminating a patient's open tissue. However, being HIV or hepatitis C positive or carrying hepatitis B is not a bar to working in the NHS. Where modification of working practice is necessary, suitable alternative work or retraining opportunities are made available, in accordance with good general principles of occupational health and general management practice.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nurses and other health care staff have contracted (a) hepatitis B, (b) hepatitis C and (c) HIV as a result of needle stick injuries in each of the last five years. [127008]

No complete data are available centrally on the number of health care workers who have contracted blood borne viruses as a result of needle stick injuries. However, the Health Protection Agency, formerly the Public Health Laboratory Service, runs enhanced surveillance whereby occupational health departments can report such incidents on a voluntary basis. The results in the last five years are shown in the table.

19981999200020012002
Hepatitis B00000
Hepatitis C00110
HIV01000

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nurses and other health care staff have sustained needle stick injuries in each of the last five years. [127009]

The Department of Health does not collect this data centrally but has advised all national health service trusts that it should be collected locally to enable them to assess the risks to staff and patients. Figures for needle stick injuries should be available from NHS trusts locally.The National Audit Office report 'A Safer Place to Work, improving the management of health and safety risks to staff in NHS Trusts' estimated that there were 23,000 needle stick injuries in England each year.