Leaders of European, national and international organisations representing healthcare workers and national and international academic experts agreed that urgent and decisive implementation of the new Directive is needed to prevent potentially fatal or life-changing infections.

The 1st European Biosafety Summit, hosted by the European Biosafety Network in Madrid, stated in its ‘Call for Action’ that national governments must implement the EU Sharps Directive through national legislation without delay or compromise. National legislation is the most effective route to fully implement the requirements of the Directive and there must be significant penalties for non or late compliance. This ‘Call for Action’ comes at a critical time as over 500 people have this week been asked to undergo testing, by three hospital trusts in North and East Yorkshire, following the discovery that a healthcare worked who treated them may have been infected with HIV.

The Summit concluded that there was a need for an integrated approach to implementation of the Directive. Comprehensive user training, safer working practices and the use of medical devices incorporating safety-engineered protection mechanisms have been proven by independent studies to prevent the majority of needlestick injuries. Studies have also shown that failure to implement any one of these three elements results in a significantly reduced impact.