Fenland to impose charges to patients for domestic sharps collections

As we noted previously, it is now confirmed that Fenland District Council WILL bill patients directly for the collection of  sharps containers from domestic premises.

We reported on news reports a couple of weeks ago that the council is set to introduce an £8 charge for collecting sharp boxes, including those of diabetics, after the NHS announced it would be ending the service it currently operates in pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries.

Whilst the NHS has offered the service for years, the legal responsibility lays with the district council.

Wisbech councillor Virginia Bucknor has been spearheading opposition to the proposals. She said: “Since we had the briefing note from officers about the proposed introduction of charges I have been trying to get answers on how this was decided.

“I have also visited as many other district council websites as I can to see whether or not they are charging for this service and so far I have been unable to find one other authority that is doing this.

“It is discriminatory, no-one chooses to have diabetes and they have no choice but to use needles for their life-saving insulin injections. I am horrified at the suggestion vulnerable patients may end up paying to get rid of their unwanted clinical waste.”

Wisbech woman Sue Marshall has launched an online petition opposing the move. She said: “There has been no consultation with residents whatsoever. Despite the decision by the NHS, there is no other council in Cambridgeshire that we could find that is now charging for this service.

“Without any advance notice to residents, chemists or health centres, Fenland Council’s Cabinet advised councillors by email in July that they would be charging residents for removal of sharp boxes and clinical waste. This decision to charge residents is against the 2010 Discrimination Act. We therefore urge Fenland Council to reconsider this decision.”

Visit: www.change.org to sign Sue’s petition.

Even though the NHS is short of funds, this seems to be an irresponsible policy change. Indeed, it is one that smacks of brinksmanship regarding who should pick up the bill that has gone badly wrong. It seems particularly absurd since insulin-dependent diabetics qualify for free prescriptions, including a free prescription for the appropriate sharps bin.
The next thing to pick up, if the administrators can’t reach a more sensible agreement, will be discarded sharps bins, slipped into household recycling and black sacks. That would be equally wrong, but seems likely.



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