MORE than 100 patients in the Lothians who may have been treated by a former NHS healthcare worker who tested positive for hepatitis C are being advised to arrange a blood test, the NHS says.
The worker did not return to clinical practice after testing positive in 2008 but NHS Lanarkshire is working with other health boards across the UK to notify patients who may have had a surgical procedure carried out by the individual between 1982 and 2008.
The individual worked in hospitals across Lanarkshire during the period, based primarily at Wishaw General Hospital and the former Law Hospital.
They also worked at the William Harvey Hospital in East Kent for three months between January and April 2006.
More than 8,300 patients across the UK, including 110 from the Lothians, are to receive letters informing them of the situation and urging them to arrange a blood test.
NHS Lanarkshire said the majority of those contacted will be in Lanarkshire, with about 1,000 across Scotland and the rest of the UK.
In England, 336 people are to be contacted with a further 11 in Wales and five in Northern Ireland.
Expert advice is that the risk of the hepatitis C virus having been transmitted to a patient during surgery involving the healthcare worker is low, the health board said.
In previous similar exercises either no patients or only a small number have been found to be infected, according to NHS Lanarkshire.
Dr Iain Wallace, medical director at NHS Lanarkshire, 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.
“We are committed to supporting patients and are ensuring they have every opportunity to get information about hepatitis C, the testing process and the situation in general.
“We are also putting on additional clinics locally to make it as straightforward and convenient as possible for people to get tested.”
The number of people being urged to arrange blood tests per health board area is:
• Ayrshire and Arran - 95
• Borders - 21
• Dumfries and Galloway - 19
• Fife - 45
• Forth Valley - 47
• Greater Glasgow and Clyde - 208
• Grampian - 49
• Highland - 64
• Lanarkshire - 7,311
• Lothian - 110
• Island Boards (Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles) - 6
• Tayside - 53
There are 336 patients in England, a further 11 in Wales and five in Northern Ireland, who will also be contacted by the relevant health protection organisations, NHS Lanarkshire said.