"Sharps Bins"

About: South Staffordshire PCT

(as the patient),

Today, I went to my local health centre to change my full sharps bin, I am diabetic. I was given a letter dated April 2011, telling me they no longer issued new sharps bins.

From July 1st, the 5 litre bin I now use,will be replaced with a 1 litre bin obtained on prescription from my GP. The full box still has to be taken to the health centre. As a couple of years ago, it was deemed impracticle to take and replace sharps box at my GP's, Why now the sudden turn back?

In this age of cutting costs, why do we now instead of taking a full box and being given a replacement, by one person do we now have to take the full bin to one place, a health centre. Then go to our GP's in my case 2 miles away, order a new sharps box from reception, get the GP to fill out a prescription, take this to the chemist and have a 5 times smaller box issued.

Is there a department in the NHS who look at systems that are simple and work well and decide to change this to an obviously more costly way of doing a simple job? I also wonder if the PCT, who are now doing only half of this job, will reduce staffing leavels as appropriate to the lesser amount of work? I would think not.

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Response from Patient and public engagement lead, NHS South Staffordshire

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience and I am sorry that you are unhappy about the recent changes, however the new process is designed to offer a safer and more convenient way of disposing of sharps as part of diabetes management. The change was also necessary to bring the service in Cannock Chase in line with how the service is delivered across the rest of South Staffordshire.

Patients who start insulin or self monitoring of blood glucose levels are prescribed a sharps box for disposal of sharp or potentially hazardous waste products as they commence insulin therapy or self blood glucose monitoring. As you say in your feedback this is now prescribed as a 1 litre sharps guard.

Only lancets, pen needles or syringes and empty cartridges should be put in the bin. Disposable pens should be put into the household refuse once the needle and if present the cartridge has been removed. The 1 litre bin is of therefore considered to be of ample size and in fact many patients complain that it is too big.

Repeat prescriptions for sharps boxes are obtained from the General Practitioner by request on the prescription request form as this was considered an easy and more convenient way for patients as they order and collect their medication in this way normally. Requests for sharps bin from the surgery would only be necessary about 2-3 times a year.

Once the sharps bins are full they should be sealed as directed on the box and a sticker with the patient’s name, address and date the box was sealed should be stuck on the box. This box can now be taken to any of the central points in the Cannock or Rugeley area. These centres are Sandy Lane Health Centre, Hendesford Valley Health Cenre, Station Road Hendersfords, Heath Hayes Health Centre, Gorse Moor Road, Heath Hayes, Great Wyrley Health Centre, Wardles Lane Gt Wyrley, West Chardmore Clinic, Clarion Way West Chaddsmoor, Springfields Health and Wellbeing Centre, Norton Canes Health Centre, which again aims to offer more choice and flexibility for patients.

This service reduces health care professional and patient time as the prescribing of new boxes is within the normal repeat requests. Disposal of the full box at a centre is at the patients’ convenience. No additional costs are incurred.

I hope this helps to clarify why the changes have been made but we would be happy to speak to you directly if you have any further concerns.

Fiona Kirkland

Consultant Nurse for Diabetes

South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust

01283 507110

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