New sharps disposal solution needed for diabetes patients in Huddersfield

Tuesday January 17 2017

Bin men, children playing in the streets, people minding their own business walking through housing estates and community healthcare workers are all being put at increased risk of suffering a potentially dangerous needlestick injury in the Kirklees area of Huddersfield in the UK.

This is because many of the 17,500 people living with diabetes in the locality are stockpiling used and broken needles after self-administering insulin to regulate their condition, due to not being provided with a safe sharps disposal service by local authorities.

Healthwatch Kirklees, which is funded by the UK government, is urging healthcare officials to introduce a proper system for sharps disposal for diabetic patients in the area in order to protect their own health and that of others who may come into contact with their used needles. Should this happen, there is a risk that blood-borne infections could be passed from person to person, which is why there is a call for safety syringes to be rolled out to people administering their own injections at home, as well as throughout hospitals.

Many community pharmacies do have a dedicated safe bin where needles can be disposed of, but people who are housebound or cannot easily get out and about due to a medical condition are not necessarily able to use these, meaning they and their loved ones could be at greater risk of a sharps injury.

Speaking to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Pete Hoey of Healthwatch Kirklees explained: "People who are diabetic are certainly at increased risk of mobility problems and there are likely to be a significant number of people out there who need a disposal service. We are looking to hear if people who are housebound have been suffering difficulties with their sharps bins."

An alternative solution to the current system could be employing a service that would be responsible for collecting sharps bins on a regular basis from the homes of people who self-inject their own medication. This would reduce their likelihood - and that of refuse collectors and other local people - of suffering a needlestick injury that could put them at greater risk of contracting a blood-borne condition as severe as hepatitis C or HIV.