Staff infected by dirty needles in drug-ridden jails have won £734,000 in payouts in last 3 years. The settlements, including legal costs, were made to as few as nine people, figures reveal.
Most of the bill — picked up by taxpayers — was for last year when £583,000 was paid out.
The cash was paid for so-called needle stick injuries and blood-borne illnesses passed on by them such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Many needle injuries are caused when officers search cells for illegal drugs, sources say.
Once pricked by a used needle, victims can face weeks of anxious waiting before finding out if they have been infected.
The Ministry of Justice said seven of the payouts were made to those injured by needles in 2016/17. There were five or fewer payouts — the precise figure is not given — in the following two years.
Regrettably, this is an ever-present risk. As sad as it is, this news provides a useful reminder that sharps injury risk is not a problem solely for healthcare professionals but for prison officers, police, and many workers across the entire waste management sector. Sadly, not all groups are well-represented to obtain the best working conditions and safety systems, or compensation when the worst happens.
And we must not forget the considerable harm caused by the casual attitude and unsafe disposal of unprotected sharps by healthcare professionals that place those in the waste management sector at great risk.