MindMetre, an independent research organisation, has revealed that one third of NHS Trusts do not instruct staff to use safety devices ‘wherever possible’ in their sharps policies, despite this being an explicit requirement of the UK’s Health and Safety (Sharps Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013.
The term ‘safer sharp’ means medical sharps that incorporate features or mechanisms to prevent or minimise the risk of accidental injury.
The organisation has been investigating attitudes to sharps injury prevention across Europe for some years, including the passage of relevant EU and national legislation and regulation.
In order to build a picture of the current level of adoption and compliance in UK acute healthcare institutions in respect of EU Council Directive 2010/32/EU and Health and Safety Regulations 2013, MindMetre conducted a survey of UK NHS Acute Trusts.
The survey was performed under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act (2000) amongst the UK’s 159 NHS Acute Trusts covering the period July-December 2013.
Although the survey results show widespread progress towards adoption and compliance, it also reported findings indicating that there is considerable ground yet to be covered.
MindMetre Research managing director Paul Lindsell said that the larger proportion of NHS Trusts are taking compliance with EU Council Directive 2010/32/EU and Health and Safety (Sharps Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 very seriously.
“With almost a fifth of Trusts having revised their sharps policies in advance of the mandatory national regulation date in 2013, and with two thirds of Trusts instructing staff to use safety sharps products ‘wherever possible’, it is clear that most are demonstrating their concern with clinical, care and ancillary staff safety with tangible action,” Lindsell added.
However, some Trusts have not revised their sharps policies, and one third are not encouraging their staff to use safety devices ‘wherever possible’, despite this being an explicit piece of guidance in the relevant regulation.
“We expect further progress to be made across 2014, both by pioneering Trusts in this regard, and also from those that have made slower progress,” added Lindsell.
Research carried out by MindMetre shows that 84% of Trusts have revised and published their sharps policy in the light of the EU Directive, of which 17% revised their sharps policy post-Directive and pre UK statutory instrument.
In addition, 59% of Trusts instruct staff to use safety devices ‘wherever possible’ in their sharps policy; however 33% of Trusts do not make this instruction in their sharps policy, while 29% mandate the use of safety devices in particular categories, particularly cannulation and phlebotomy.
The MindMetre research report also found that safety device usage (measured in volume of procedures) has risen from 23% in 2009, to 67% by the end of 2013, applicable to Trusts who were capable of making a broadly accurate estimate.