Confusion over what to do with sharps bins in the Fens after ruling says you can no longer take to GP surgeries or chemists

New rulings mean sharps boxes will not be able to be taken to GP surgeries. Fenland District Council

New rulings mean sharps boxes will not be able to be taken to GP surgeries. Fenland District Council will instead be responsible who say it will be in force from April 2019 - Credit: Archant

Confusion over what patients should do with sharps bins and used pads is setting in across Fenland after patients in Chatteris and Wisbech were told they can no longer take them to chemists or GP surgeries.

George Clare Surgery, Swan Drive, Chatteris.

George Clare Surgery, Swan Drive, Chatteris. - Credit: Archant

The change is not supposed to be in force until April 2019 but at some settings the change has already taken place without a replacement service put in place by Fenland district Council.

There is talk that patients will have to pay £8 a time to have their sharps bins collected.

Councillor Virginia Bucknor, said: “This should not be coming into effect until at least next year although at a recent council meeting some thought the changes would be introduced from September.

She said it: “Does not make any sense whatsoever. It is illogical to suggest a van going around collecting needles when currently the simple system is to collect from surgeries and chemists.”

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She feared that the £8 charge would result in people throwing their sharps and pads into their green bins.

“I’ve just had a Wisbech town councillor ask what to do with sharp boxes as someone took their’s to Boots and was refused.

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“When I raised at September’s FDC meeting I was told by Councillor Peter Murphy I was making political shenanigans and that people could still take their boxes in to chemists as usual and nothing would alter until next year.

“We have thousands of people this affects, 200 registered drug users, many people who have clinical waste requiring collections and thousands of diabetics.

“An elderly lady called me so upset. The nurse took the sharps box but not her husband’s pads. She is calling me back as I could only advise her to call FDC who denied to me that it was happening until next year.

“The whole issue is ill-thought out and we are being kept in the dark.”

In Chatteris, a woman who injects a drug, that could be fatal in the wrong hands, is worried about infection control and safety.

She was told last week she can no longer take her sharps bins back to the town’s George Clare surgery.

The woman, who injects methotrexate, a drug prescribed for cancer and arthritis patients, said: “I was told I have to get in touch with the council.

“If the council sets up a door to door collection, as has been suggested this is unsafe. My front door is straight on to the pathway used by students at Cromwell.

“If I leave a sharps bin out for collection, teenagers could pick it up and break it open to work out what it is.

“There would be enough drug remaining in my needles to kill somebody.

“Needles could carry all sorts of infection. In the case of my medication it’s a really dangerous drug and there’s no going back if a person has too much. They will die.

“Dropping boxes to a GP surgery has worked for years, it’s a safe place. I’ve no idea why it’s being changed.”

An FDC spokesman said: “There does appear to be some confusion within the NHS over its planned change. The latest information from the NHS is that it has yet to implement any changes.

“We have been informed that, at present, nothing has changed from the existing arrangements, although what individual pharmacies and GP surgeries do is up to them.

“The NHS has confirmed with the Recap partnership that, at our request, they have delayed their implementation of these changes across East Anglia until April 2019.

“The Recap partnership is in the process of developing solutions to minimise the impact of these changes such that they will not result in dramatically increased public costs, confusion for residents, inconsistent service provision across the county and additional health and safety concerns.

“Once these have been established and agreed by our Members, they will be advertised to customers. These solutions include looking at options for pharmacies and GP surgeries to continue collecting sharps boxes on our behalf.

“In the case of cytotoxic drugs (a group of medicines containing chemicals which are toxic to cells and used to treat cancer), we understand that these remain the responsibility of pharmacies, clinics and surgeries in line with advice given when these medicines are prescribed, even after the NHS changes are made.

“In the meantime, the council will not be implementing its clinical waste collection fee until the NHS makes its changes.”

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