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Unison and the Royal College of Nursing, two of the major unions representing healthcare workers, are working together to pressure NHS Trusts and the Government to bring forward implementation of Council Directive 2010/32/EU, formally set for May 2013.
There is, of course, no need to wait for the deadline though it is reported that many NGHS Trusts are dragging their heels as the change will not be an easy on and substantial further expenditure will be required of already beleaguered budgets.
The Clinical Waste Discussion Forum fully supports union attempts to speed the implementation of safer needles, acknowledging that these will provide a valuable additional level of safety for ancillary staff and waste handlers also. However, since it is those healthcare professionals – perhaps represented by Unison or RCN - who now toss unsheathed needles into waste sacks are unlikely perhaps to activate an additional safety device before disposal, others will still be placed at risk when handling clinical waste sacks and used laundry.
Will the unions be so prepared to accept professional or employment-related disciplinary and formal legal proceedings against their members when disposal errors have occurred? Somehow, I doubt it.