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Hepatitis C warning issued over former health worker

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Patients who may have been treated by a former healthcare worker with hepatitis C are being contacted as a precaution in Lanarkshire and Kent.

The former worker tested positive for hepatitis C infection in 2008 and immediately stopped carrying out procedures and did not return to clinical practice, said NHS Lanarkshire today in a statement.

“We have apologised to patients for any concern that may be caused by this situation”

Iain Wallace

The health board said it was working with other boards and agencies across the UK to notify patients who may have had surgery involving the infected worker between 1982 and January 2008.

Patients are receiving letters this week recommending they arrange an appointment for a blood test. Of the 8,383 patients being contacted, 7,311 are from Lanarkshire. Patients are also receiving a detailed question and answer sheet with their letter, which includes information about hepatitis C and how to arrange to be tested.

Dr Iain Wallace, medical director at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “We have apologised to patients for any concern that may be caused by this situation.

“We are committed to supporting patients and are ensuring they have every opportunity to get information about hepatitis C, the testing process and the situation in general,” he said.

“We are also putting on additional clinics locally to make it as straightforward and convenient as possible for people to get tested,” he added.

To ensure a “consistent and co-ordinated approach”, NHS Lanarkshire has been working with other health boards, Health Protection Scotland, Public Health England, NHS England, the Public Health Agency of Northern Ireland, Public Health Wales and the UK Advisory Panel for Healthcare Workers Infected with Blood Borne Viruses.

The infected individual worked in hospitals across Lanarkshire, but was primarily based at Wishaw General Hospital and the former Law Hospital.

They were also at the William Harvey Hospital in East Kent for three months between January and April 2006. East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has written to 46 patients.

The individual was tested by NHS Lanarkshire’s occupational health service in January 2008 and found to have hepatitis C.

NHS Lanarkshire and Health Protection Scotland carried out an investigation at that time. Based on the evidence, it was advised that a patient notification exercise was not needed.

However, a patient recently referred for treatment for hepatitis C was found to have had a surgical procedure carried out by the healthcare worker.

Subsequent investigations identified another patient in Lanarkshire with hepatitis C who was also probably infected during a procedure carried out by the healthcare worker.

A freephone helpline has been set up in Scotland: 0800 028 2816. It will be open from 8am to 10pm, until 17 March 2016.

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