Brussels, 8 March 2010 – Health First Europe (HFE) welcomes the adoption, at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO), of the Council Directive implementing the Framework Agreement on the prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare. This Directive implements the Framework Agreement on prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector signed by the European social partners HOSPEEM and EPSU on 17 July 2009, which is an annex to the Directive.

For the last five years, HFE has been campaigning and assisting EU policy makers with the goal of ensuring that effective binding measures are agreed to ensure that healthcare workers across Europe are protected from injuries with used needles and other medical sharps that can lead to potentially fatal blood borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis B and C.

John Bowis, HFE’s honorary president stated, “This Directive is an example of how policy makers and social partners have successfully worked together to improve health worker and patient safety. I am extremely satisfied to see that all the energy put into the process has come to a more than satisfactory end.”

Bowis added that “the European Parliament has played a pivotal role in driving this initiative. This has included the July 2006 Parliament Report and Resolution, calling for a legislative proposal, under the rapporteurship of Stephen Hughes MEP, and the more recent February 2010 Resolution on the proposed Directive, where the rapporteur was another very important HFE supporter, Liz Lynne MEP. These two MEP’s, with the support of colleagues, have campaigned tirelessly to get adequate protection for Europe’s healthcare workers.

Liz Lynne commented:

There are over 1 million preventable needlestick injuries across the EU each year, which create a terrible physical and psychological burden on the workers affected and their families, but also a massive cost to the health system and society at large.

These new laws will bring improved working practices and the mandatory use of medical devices that incorporate needle protection, vital changes I have campaigned to achieve for many years.

For too long our healthcare workers, who are focused on improving the health and well being of others, have themselves been exposed to the daily threat of life threatening infections, the majority of which are avoidable.

Stephen Hughes added:

For many years the European Parliament has been pushing for European-wide mandatory needlestick and sharps protection requirements to be incorporated in a Directive, as the existing worker safety legislation has clearly not been effective in this case.”

I have been committed to improving the protection of healthcare workers from needlestick injuries ever since I and some of my colleagues were visited in the European Parliament by healthcare workers from across Europe on World AIDS Day 2004 during an event organised by Health First Europe.

For more information:
Patricia Lamas Sánchez
Tel: +32 (0) 2 626 19 99
E-mail :

Notes to Editors

Needlestick injuries are the most common and dangerous form of medical sharps injuries. Whenever a hollow-bore needle is used on a patient there is a risk of a needlestick injury that could lead to a serious infection of a healthcare worker, because the hollow-bore acts as a reservoir for the patient’s blood and other bodily fluids. Surprisingly small amounts of blood can lead to a serious infection. The highest risk procedures include blood collection, IV cannulation and percutaneously placed syringes.