Shambolic’ treatment after needlestick

Shambolic’ treatment of cleaner turned away from three health centres after being pricked by a potentially dirty needle.

A cleaner pricked by a dirty needle was left horrified after being denied treatment by three separate health centres.

David Crisp was cleaning public toilets in Trinity Street, Fareham, when he picked up tissue paper not knowing a needle was wrapped inside.

The 40-year-old was pricked by the needle and, on the advice of his boss, was told to go to A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.

But Mr Crisp, of Cochrane Close, Gosport, was turned away at A&E and later told he could not be helped by his GP practice and at a walk-in centre as all three were following different protocols and believed they were acting correctly in sending him elsewhere.

After calling the NHS helpline 111 more than five hours later, Mr Crisp was told to go back to A&E.

Now a Clinical Commissioning Group – which pays for health services – is looking to advise all practices to follow the same policies to ensure patients are not let down again.

Mr Crisp said: ‘The whole day was shambolic and it left me feeling very emotional and angry – even several days later. I was concerned about HIV and hepatitis C, worried I could have either of these and that I was delayed treatment. I was turned away from A&E as it was 2pm and was told to see my GP.’

But when his wife called Brune Medical Centre, in Rowner Road, Gosport, she was told by a receptionist that needlestick injuries are treated at A&E.

Mr Crisp went to the Guildhall walk-in centre in Portsmouth, where he was given advice but told they could not help any further.

And when the father-of-three called NHS 111 at 7pm, he was told the best place for him to go was A&E.

‘After all that I couldn’t believe I was being sent back to the place where it all began,’ said Mr Crisp.

‘What made me angry was I needed treatment quickly but was left waiting several hours instead.’

Mr Crisp has since been given vaccinations and will need to have blood tests and boosters for the next year as he awaits initial results.

Dr Stuart Morgan, senior partner at the Brune Medical Centre, said: ‘It was our firm understanding patients with needlestick injuries should be seen in A&E. We have apologised to the patient for any impression given that we were not willing to see him, and we have been in contact with several NHS services to ensure he has received appropriate treatment.

‘We are entirely satisfied our receptionist did everything she felt appropriate in the circumstances.’

A QA spokesman said: ‘Our needlestick policy is that within working hours patients should visit their employer’s occupational health service or their GP, and out-of-hours should go to the emergency department for a risk assessment and appropriate follow-up.’

A Care UK spokesman, which runs the Guildhall walk-in centre, said: ‘The contract we operate under does not permit the team working there to carry out blood tests on patients who are not registered with the centre, unless the GPs have reason to believe the patient has cancer.

‘As a result of this contractual obligation, we refer patients that have been pricked by a potentially dirty needle on to another NHS service for tests.’


This appalling tale of incompetence is regrettably far too common, though it much reach the top – or is that the bottom? – of a very sorry pile of clinical negligence.

We have on record members of the public told to collect discarded needles in the stead of a council employee as a cost-saving measure, and of council employees,  waste handlers in the clinical and general utility areas, and ancillary staff, being denied treatment for a sharps injury that on triage is dismissed as a trivial injury. But sharps injury is NEVER trivial.

The most appropriate plan to adopt in the event of sharps injury is firstly not to suck or squeeze the wound, wash it gently but thoroughly and clean the wound with soap and running water, encourage bleeding without pressing or squeezing the wound too hard, and to cover the would lightly with a clean dry dressing.

Then, go IMMEDIATELY to a nearby ACCIDENT & EMERGENCY department, preferably at a major hospital. Explain what happened and don’t be fobbed off. There may be a delay as more serious cases are managed as a greater priority but time can be critical and excess delay is not acceptable. Ask for urgent treatment and remind the front line staff of the risk of bloodborne virus infection.

If a delay does occur, be prepared to push, shout, stamp, to get seen. NEVER accept advice to got to another hospital or minor injuries unit as these do not have access to the specialist infection diseases advice that might be required. NEVER go to a GP clinic.

It might help if the employers of those who might suffer sharps injury as part of their duties prepare a small laminated sharps injury action card to be carried in all waste collection vehicles and at other strategic locations. In the event of injury, take this with you to A&E, to remind the staff of the potential implications and severity of sharps injury and blood splash exposures and to ensure that you are not dismissed as having a trivial and largely unseen minor injury.

This last point will be taken up with the safety group of CIWM, and Blenkharn Environmental will be working on suitable wording for an action card. This should be available the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum and CIWM website as soon as possible. This can be modified locally, with Company name and emergency contact numbers etc, laminated and distributed for the benefit of all at-risk staff.




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