Hepatitis C warning for patients

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It has emerged that 21 Borderers are among more than 8,000 people being offered blood screening after they were treated by a healthcare worker diagnosed with hepatitis C back in 2008.

Health officials ordered the move after finding it was probable that two former patients had been infected during a procedure carried out by the medic.

The vast majority of those being offered screening (7,311), are in Lanarkshire. The region’s NHS board said this week that the healthcare worker, who has not been identified, did not return to clinical practice after testing positive in 2008. A “detailed investigation” was carried out and the findings submitted to the UK Advisory Panel for Healthcare Workers Infected with Blood Borne Viruses.

NHS Lanarkshire said: “Based on the evidence available at that time, the UK Advisory Panel advised that a patient notification exercise was not indicated.”

This position changed when NHS Lanarkshire was made aware in 2015 of a patient referred for treatment for hepatitis C who had had a surgical procedure carried out by the healthcare worker.

NHS Lanarkshire is working with other health boards to notify former patients who underwent surgeries where the worker was involved.

While they are screening for hepatitis, the risk was very low. Dr Iain Wallace, medical director at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “We know that some people receiving the letter may be anxious about what this means for them. 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 the situation.”