University of Derby students 'at risk' of HIV after worker reuses syringe barrels

Over 600 students from past and present have been contacted over fears they have been put at risk of HIV or hepatitis

More than 600 students at the University of Derby have been contacted for blood testing over fears they have been put at risk of HIV or hepatitis.

An investigation led by NHS England has been opened into the blood-testing procedures of a healthcare worker, after it emerged syringe barrels to which the needles attach were being reused in the administration of vaccinations and blood taking.

A total of 606 students who received blood tests and vaccinations from September 2005 to October 2013 from this health care worker have been contacted by letter, inviting them to attend a hospital or their GP for a blood test.

NHS England said the healthworker has been suspended pending the investigation.

Students who attend the following courses are those who have been called for further blood testing: MA Art Therapy, MA Drama Therapy, MSc Occupational Therapy, BSc Occupational Therapy, BSc Diagnostic Radiography, BSc Nursing (adult and mental health), and Adv Dip in Nurse Studies (adult and mental health).

Dr Doug Black, Medical Director, NHS England Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire said: "This investigation has taken place as it is understood that, whilst syringe needles were always changed between patients, the syringe barrels to which the needles attach were being reused in the administration of vaccinations.

"This also occurred during blood taking, where a single use holder for a blood collection tube was reused but needles changed.

“Therefore there is an extremely low possibility these errors may have put people at risk of infection from hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV.

"With this in mind, as a precaution, we have reviewed all available University health records and the 606 people identified have all been contacted and invited to attend a blood test at their local hospital or via their GP.

"We are extremely sorry for the undoubted worry and concern people we are contacting may feel on receiving this news."

Professor John Coyne, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby said: "This is a deeply regrettable incident, and it does mean that we need to contact a significant number of our current and former students to ensure they get the information and guidance they need. I apologise for the potential distress this may cause to the people involved.

"An advice line has been set up by the University, with clinical support from Public Health England, to provide advice and guidance to callers. Those who receive a letter are advised to call 03330 142479 for further information on what actions they should take next."

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