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Sheffield woman to fight Novotel for compensation after being pricked by a needle at work

Pricked by a needle at work


A Sheffield chambermaid is to sue her former employer for damages after a needle, believed to be from a syringe, pricked her leg whilst she changed bed linen in a guest room.

Louise Dakin, 34, of Richmond Place, Richmond, was cleaning one of the 144 rooms at the Sheffield Novotel, based on Arundel Gate, when the needle penetrated her right thigh leaving her fearful she had caught a disease.

David Urpeth a partner with national law firm Irwin Mitchell, based at its new Riverside Offices in Sheffield, is handling her claim.

Needle injury at work

Ms Dakin suffered the needle injury whilst sitting on the freshly made bed and using the pedal mechanism to manoeuvre it against the wall.

She said: "Novotel's policy is to wash bed sheets daily, but only change the fluffy blanket and throw every two to three weeks at the chambermaid's discretion. I believe I disturbed the needle whilst putting the used throw back on the bed and inadvertently sat on it.

"I felt a sharp prick in my leg and looked down to see the needle was stuck firmly in my flesh. As I stood up, the needle came away and I realised to my horror it didn't have an eye, so couldn't be a sewing needle, but must be a hypodermic needle.

"I wasn't thinking straight and threw it in the bin. When my supervisor did her rounds I pointed the needle out but she didn't look at it properly, saying it was probably just a sewing needle and nothing to worry about."

Ms Dakin finished her shift, but continued to worry. After five days, she approached her supervisor again and asked if she still thought it was a sewing needle.

She said: "I tried hard to convince myself it was just a sewing needle and nothing to worry about, as my supervisor told me, but I didn't believe this. I was only too aware of the hotel's reputation as being popular with drug users and prostitutes.

"After 10 days I couldn't bear it any more and visited my GP at Richmond Medical Centre. He told me that had my employer sent me to the hospital straight away they could have given me antibiotics to reduce the chance of me catching any viruses."

Diseases spread with needles

Ms Dakin has undergone two sets of preliminary blood tests for HIV and Hepatitis A, B and C, both coming back negative.

She said: "I am not in the clear yet. I have to undergo further blood tests in six months, which will show whether I have been infected. I feel like I'm living with a ticking time bomb, never knowing if my card has been marked."

Ms Dakin says the incident has put strain on relationships with her family as she is scared to kiss or come into close contact with her children and partner, Andrew, for fear of passing on a disease.

Commenting on the case, solicitor Mr Urpeth, said: "The negligence shown by Novotel in this case is disturbing. The management's failure to recommend Ms Dakin visit a hospital is a direct violation of the duty of care owed to her by her employer.

"Ms Dakin has endured a terrible experience and it will be another six months before she knows what the future holds. We will fight Novotel to get the compensation she deserves."