Thousands of people across the country are being contacted after a healthcare worker infected two patients with the hepatitis C virus.
It was discovered that a retired obstetrics and gynaecology worker unknowingly had the virus while employed for the NHS, and infected two patients while working at a hospital in Wales, Public Health England said.
The health worker is understood to have worked at numerous hospitals in the UK which are listed below:
England - from September 1975 until December 1983:
- Grimsby General Hospital - now Diana Princess of Wales Hospital
- Burnley General Hospital
- Bedford Hospital
- City General Hospital, Carlisle - now Cumberland Infirmary
- Herts and Essex Hospital
- All Saints Hospital, Kent - now Medway Maritime Hospital
- Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport
- Doncaster Gate Hospital, Rotherham - now Rotherham Hospital
- Royal Victoria Hospital, Boscombe - now the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS Foundation Trust
- Royal General Hospital, Treliske - now the Royal Cornwall Hospital
- Peterborough District Hospital - now Peterborough City Hospital
Wales - up until 2003:
- Wrexham Maelor Hospital
- East Glamorgan Hospital
- Caerphilly Miners' Hospital
Northern Ireland - from January to November 1979:
- The Mid Ulster Hospital, Magherafelt
Scotland - from March to July 1981:
- Fife Hospitals
Any woman who is concerned because they had an obstetric or gynaecological operation, or they gave birth, at one of the hospitals during the specified periods should contact 0800 121 4400.
For further advice and information on the virus, visit the Hepatitis C Trust website.
Hepatitis C is a virus which can lead to inflammation of the liver and cause liver disease.
Most people are oblivious to the fact they are infected because the liver can still operate when damaged and the virus does not produce any obvious symptoms.
Around 10,000 new hepatitis C diagnoses are made in England each year and around 160,000 adults in England are estimated to be living with chronic hepatitis C virus infection.
Like most sufferers, the healthcare worker had no symptoms and was unaware of the infection until after they retired.
Public Health England said once the risk of infection was recognised, a process of tracing their occupational history began.
At least 3,000 patients are now being contacted by letter informing them of the potential risk and a series of confidential helplines have been set up.
Several hundred patients in other areas of Wales who may have come into contact with the individual are also being contacted.
An estimated 400 patients are being contacted in England, while steps are being taken to check historic patient records in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The Medical Director at Public Health England, Dr Paul Cosford, said:
"We have worked hard to identify women in England who might have been at risk of contracting infection with hepatitis C from this healthcare worker and are contacting them to offer advice and a blood test for hepatitis C, should they wish to have one. I want to emphasise that the risk of infection is very small and that we are offering them testing purely as a precaution."