Page last updated at 14:09 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Child sucks on surgery's needle

Danny, Shareen and Harvey Mills
Harvey's parents must wait 12 months for the all-clear

A toddler's parents must wait 12 months to discover whether he has been infected by a discarded needle he put into his mouth at a health centre.

Harvey Mills, aged 21 months, took the hypodermic needle from a bin in an open cupboard at Cannon Street Health Centre, Hathershaw, Oldham.

He was given a hepatitis B vaccination, but needs further injections and his parents must wait for the outcome.

Health officials have apologised and have started an investigation.

Harvey's mother Shareen Mills, 28, was holding his four-month-old brother for an injection when she looked up and saw Harvey with the needle in his mouth, standing next to an overflowing sharps bin.

He was taken to Royal Oldham Hospital's A&E department to be vaccinated.

My tummy was in knots - I felt sick
Shareen Mills, mother

Mrs Mills and her husband Daniel, 22, are now considering legal action.

She told the BBC that her son had been playing with toys before wandering off into a cupboard.

"The store cupboard was wide open and I was shouting him because I thought he was really quiet," said Mrs Mills.

"The next thing you know I'd stood up with my four-month-old baby in my hands to find my son with a needle in his mouth."

Mrs Mills said she was "gobsmacked" when she saw her son, and told the BBC she now fears for his health after attending A&E.

"My tummy was in knots. I felt sick. I couldn't stop thinking about it," she added.

Harvey Mills
Harvey faces further injections in the next 12 months

"I couldn't sleep all night wondering what was going to happen to our child."

Gail Richards, chief executive of NHS Oldham, said: "We are deeply sorry for the distress this has undoubtedly caused.

"This is something no family should have to go through.

"We have launched an immediate investigation and I would personally like to reassure the family that all necessary steps will be taken to get to the bottom of this incident and take any action needed.

"We have spoken with the family to reassure them how seriously we are taking this and have apologised to them.

"We will keep them fully up to date with the investigation and will continue to stay in touch.

"We have also issued immediate instructions to all NHS staff emphasising the importance of ensuring sharps bins are kept secure and used appropriately at all times."

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