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London PCT recalls patients over hepatitis C test risk

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A south London PCT is recalling more than 12,000 patients for tests after they were treated by a healthcare worker infected with HIV and hepatitis C.

Following a full investigation by NHS Lewisham, all patients who may have been treated by the healthcare worker are being identified and invited to give a blood sample to determine their risk of hepatitis C.

After seeking expert advice, the PCT said they are not offering testing for HIV as the risk of transmission from the healthcare worker to a patient is so small. However, any patient wishing to have an HIV test can request one, they said.

The healthcare worker involved, who has not been named, left the trust last year after allegations they had contracted HIV.

Although NHS Lewisham did not say where the healthcare worker had treated patients, a spokesperson for the trust stressed they did not work at Lewisham or Blackheath hospitals, as has been previously reported.

Dr Donal O’Sullivan, consultant in public medicine at the PCT, said: ‘We are very much aware of how concerned patients will be at this news. It is important to emphasise, however, that any risk to patients is likely to be low.

‘There has never been a case of HIV infection in the UK which has occurred because of transmission from a healthcare worker to a patient. The risk of spread of hepatitis C in this way is slightly greater, but is still regarded as low.

‘We have identified everybody who is at risk, and will be writing to patients who are at any risk, inviting them to telephone the patient advice line,’ he added.

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