HIV-positive health staff barred from invasive work: Guidelines place onus on the individual to protect patients. Rosie Waterhouse reports

DOCTORS, nurses and other healthcare workers who are infected with the HIV virus that causes Aids must not perform any 'invasive' medical procedures that would carry a remote risk of exposing patients to the virus, under stringent guidelines set out by the Department of Health yesterday.

The new rules bar all HIV-infected dentists and surgeons from performing their normal duties. They must do only 'non-invasive' work and can seek advice on redeployment or retraining.

The announcement met a muted response from professional groups. The British Dental Association said: 'We have no alternative but to abide by the department's guidelines. We will have to live with them.' The Royal College of Surgeons said: 'The guidance reinforces our own statement that surgeons who are HIV- infected should not continue to carry out major surgery.'

The new guidelines also force GPs and occupational physicians to breach patient confidentiality in some circumstances. If they are treating an HIV-infected healthcare worker who they know is still performing 'exposure-prone invasive procedures', they must report the patient to his or her employer and to their regulatory authority. This is, in effect, instructing doctors to break the Hippocratic Oath.

Rejecting compulsory testing of all healthcare workers at risk of contracting HIV, the guidelines make clear the onus of responsibility for protecting the public lies with the worker.

In the light of a recent spate of publicity in which several infected doctors were named, the guidelines also attempt to keep confidential the identity of any infected worker. The health authorities will have a duty to notify patients and offer them HIV tests if it emerges that they have had invasive treatment from an infected worker. But the name of the infected individual must not be released to the public or media, without their consent, other than in 'very exceptional circumstances'. The fact that a person may have died or have already been named does not alter this rule. Anyone who reveals the name of an infected worker may have to justify that decision before the General Medical Council or other regulatory body.

The department also announced that a study would collate evidence from the United States and the Public Health Service Laboratory of patients who had had invasive treatment from an infected health worker. Dr Gwyneth Lewis, principal medical officer, said of 8,000 people tested in the UK after incidents came to light, none had been infected with the virus.

A spokesman for the Royal College of Nursing said: 'Employees with HIV will only co-operate if they know they will be supported by their employer and be protected from media hounding.'

The guidelines also state: 'Those who believe they may have been exposed to infection with HIV in their personal life or during the course of their work must seek medical advice and, if appropriate, diagnostic HIV testing.'

Government funding of the leading Aids charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, is to be reduced by two- thirds. The charity said yesterday that it faced a cut in grant from pounds 450,000 to pounds 150,000 - equal to 10 per cent of its budget - over the next three years, yet it was assisting an increasing number of people.

Nick Partridge, chief executive of the trust, criticised the move. 'We now face the immensely difficult task of maintaining our vital services with progressively less support from the Government.

'This news comes just three days after the preliminary results of the AZT drug trial, which highlighted the absence of effective drugs for people who are currently well and living with HIV, sadly confirming the continued need for our services for many years to come,' he said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin