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700 new patients – but income has dropped

GPs are putting themselves at risk from a range of infectious diseases because of failures to report needle stick incidents and gaps in their immunisation.

Just 56 per cent of blood exposure incidents that occur in practices are formally reported, according to new research. In hospitals, 91 per cent of incidents are reported.

And the study, across Aire-dale and Bradford City PCTs, found only 57 per cent of GPs were up to date with boosters for hepatitis B, compared with 80 per cent of consultants.

GPs are responsible for keeping their immunisations up to date and could be

legally liable if they passed

on an infection to a patient, the Medical Defence Union said.

The researchers condemned the lack of occupational health facilities in much of primary care and said GPs' hepatitis B immunity should be urgently reviewed – although the workload implications are major.

Lead researcher Dr Neil Smith, a GP in Silsden, West Yorkshire, said: 'It's a financial decision. Some PCTs don't see it as a priority.'

Dr Carola Sander-Hess, a GP in the Isle of Wight and hepatitis lead for the RCGP, said all practices should have a protocol for reporting needle injuries.

The study is published in Occupational Medicine (June).

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