Thousands recalled for hepatitis C test

NHS Lanarkshire medical director Dr Iain Wallace
NHS Lanarkshire medical director Dr Iain Wallace
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NHS Lanarkshire is contacting more than 7,000 patients across the county who may have contracted hepatitis C.

This comes after it was revealed a former healthcare worker, who was primarily based at Wishaw General Hospital and the former Law Hospital, tested positive for the infection in 2008.

They immediately stopped carrying out healthcare procedures and did not return to clinical practice.

However last year NHS Lanarkshire’s Health Protection Team was made aware of a patient recently referred for treatment for hepatitis C who had a surgical procedure carried out by the healthcare worker.

Further investigations identified that it was probable that this patient was infected with the virus during a surgical procedure carried out by the healthcare worker.

Subsequent investigations then identified another patient in Lanarkshire with hepatitis C for whom it is also probable that they were infected during a procedure carried out by the same healthcare worker.

Now NHS Lanarkshire is working with health boards and health agencies in other parts of the UK to notify patients who may have had a surgical procedure carried out by the former healthcare worker between 1982 and January 2008.

A total of 8,383 patients, including 7,311 from Lanarkshire, are receiving letters this week informing them of the situation and recommending that they arrange an appointment for a blood test.

NHS Lanarkshire medical director Dr Iain Wallace said: “We would like to reassure people that the likelihood of patients acquiring the virus from a surgical procedure carried out by the healthcare worker is low.

“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.”

A freephone helpline has been set up and is available every day from 8am-1pm by calling 0800 028 2816.