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Needlestick regulations become UK law

The implementation of new regulations to protect staff from sharps injuries are being welcomed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The regulations come into practice in UK law from Saturday 11 May, following lobbying from nursing groups which saw similar regulations being incorporated into the European Union (EU) directive in 2010.

An estimated one million needlestick injuries occur in the European Union each year, with more than 100,000 occurring each year in the UK alone, and can result in serious infections such as HIV and hepatitis.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said:

“This is a significant victory which has been hard won and demonstrates the importance of influencing EU health policy to benefit nurses and nursing.

"We have always believed that nurses and health care assistants should not have to go to work fearing that they could be exposed to serious infections. 

"Now that the regulations to prevent needlesticks are enshrined in law, we hope that employers are now ready to implement them and to protect their staff.”