More than 5,000 women across Wales are being contacted after it emerged that a retired healthcare worker has passed on the Hepatitis C virus to two patients.
The worker in obstectrics and gynaecology worked predominantly in Caerphilly District Miners' Hospital between 1984 and 2003, but also at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, and, for a short time, at the old East Glamorgan Hospital in Pontypridd.
Health officials say the chance of infection is very low, but women known to have come into contact with the worker will now be asked to arrange an appointment to have a test for the virus - which can lay dormant for many years.
Hannah Thomas reports:
3,000 patients who may have been treated by the worker are being written to this week, and 2,000 more next week.
The healthcare professional worked at:
- Caerphilly District Miners’ Hospital, between May 1984 and July 2003
- East Glamorgan Hospital, in Pontypridd, between 28 May 1984 and 17 July 1984
- Maelor General Hospital, in Wrexham, between 15 May 1978 and 27 June 1978
They also worked in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
A dedicated helpline has been set up, and patients will be offered advice and the chance to arrange an appointment for a Hepatitis C blood test in a specialist clinic.
The tests start on Friday, and are expected to continue for the next few weeks. The health boards say the test are 'precautionary.'
Hepatitis C is a virus that can lead to inflammation of the liver. In most cases, it does not have any symptoms. If untreated, it can cause chronic liver disease and, very rarely, cancer of the liver.
Dr Gill Richardson, Director of Public Health for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, told our presenter Ruth Wignall that there are now regulations in place for healthcare workers performing surgical procedures, to make sure something like this does not happen again:
Phone NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47