600 patients offered tests after hospital HIV alerts

Ian Herbert,North
Saturday 15 February 2014 02:08
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More than 600 former patients were offered HIV tests yesterday after two hospitals each revealed that a healthcare worker was infected with the virus.

The Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said a staff member was diagnosed last Friday and immediately stopped clinical work. The worker has been granted a court order preventing identification, which limited the information available to patients who received a letter warning that they were "potentially at risk".

In another development, the Highland Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, in Inverness, revealed it had written to 116 patients explaining they had undergone a procedure performed by a male healthcare worker who was HIV-positive.

The Hull Trust has checked the records of 7,000 patients to identify those who were treated by the worker. In a statement, its medical director Dr John Dyet said the situation was "regrettable", but added that the risk of infection was "very low". There have been no reported cases in Britain of HIV-positive healthcare workers passing the virus to patients.

A spokesman for the Hull Trust said its healthcare worker had undergone a full medical check before being employed and was passed fit in accordance with national guidelines.

Richard Carey, chief executive of Highland Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said theatre lists and the medical records of about 4,300 patients had been examined to establish those potentially at risk from its worker. He said lawyers for the hospital had succeeded in fighting attempts to ban the identification of which hospital and department the individual worked in, and when he worked there.

Derek Bodell, from the National Aids Trust, said patients had little to fear. He added: "We must also be careful to avoid a situation where the privacy of people working with HIV is removed without just cause."

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