Aids doctor worked for several authorities

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SEVERAL health authorities are expected to set up helplines today after it emerged that a doctor who died of Aids last summer in Bolton had previously worked in other areas, writes Liz Hunt.

The doctor, believed to be a trainee GP, had told partners in the practice where he worked that he was HIV positive. He was allowed to continue seeing patients, in accordance with government guidelines, from August 1991 to February 1992. The practice did not inform anyone of his HIV status, and was not obliged to do so.

The doctor had also worked as a locum in the casualty department at Bolton Royal Infirmary, but had not told anyone there that he carried the Aids virus. This was in breach of the guidelines.

All 260 patients who were seen in casualty during the six shifts he worked - a total of 49 hours between October 1991 and January 1992 - are being offered tests and counselling. Only a 'handful' who underwent an invasive procedure, such as stit ches, are deemed to be at 'a minimal risk', according to Dr Peter Povey, director of public health for Bolton Health Authority.

Dr Povey added that the doctor would not have been employed by the hospital if it had known that he was HIV positive. At a press conference in Bolton yesterday, he said: 'I believe there was a duty on behalf of the doctor to have informed the health authority of his status before he was recruited for the locum post. I think he did breach the guidelines.'

The authority refused to name the other authorities involved. They have all been notified, and are now checking records to see what kind of work the doctor did and who he saw. John Brunt, unit general manager, said each authority would inform the public as appropriate. Yesterday 125 people called the Bolton helpline (0204 390999).