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Health board receives 1,400 calls for hepatitis C tests

We are really pleased with the response from women that have received a letter, so far we have received over 1,400 calls from women that have received individual letters offering a blood test for hepatitis C and over 1,000 appointments have been booked.

43 specialist nurse led clinics will be held across the Health Board area for the next 5 weeks including weekends and we will continue to do everything we can to support patients.

We would encourage all women who receive a letter to contact the dedicated helpline number (open from 8am -8pm, 7 days a week) which is contained in each letter, to arrange their test as soon as possible.

We need to again stress that the risk of transmission is low and testing is being provided as a precautionary measure.

– Dr Gill Richardson, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

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Advice for anyone concerned about Hepatitis C

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has issued advice for anyone concerned they may have been passed the Hepatitis C virus by a former healthcare worker.

If you receive a letter saying you may have come into contact with the worker:

  • Contact the helpline as stated in the letter - it is open initially from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week
  • Provide your unique reference number, which is on top of the letter
  • The helpline staff will be able to give you advice and details of the blood test offered, and be able to arrange an appointment
  • Specialist clinics will start taking place from Friday, 13th September and patients will receive results in approximately two weeks
  • At the clinic you will have the opportunity to talk to specialist nurses for any questions you may have

If you do not receive a letter, but still have concerns:

Dates where worker was at three Welsh hospitals

A healthcare worker infected with Hepatitis C is known to have transmitted the virus to two patients.

Now, further patients who may have been treated by them are being contacted and offered advice and blood tests.

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

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What is Hepatitis C?

  • Hepatitis C is a virus that can lead to inflammation of the liver
  • In most cases, it does not have any symptoms and so most people don't realise they have it
  • If untreated, the infection can cause chronic liver disease and, very rarely, cancer of the liver
  • The Hepatitis C virus is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, and very rarely through sexual intercourse
  • The most common route of transmission in the UK is intravenous drug use
  • It cannot be transmitted through social contact, kissing, or sharing food and drink
  • About four in every 1,000 people in the UK may be Hepatitis C carriers
  • Treatment helps to achieve clearance in up to 80 per cent of carriers

Since 2007, all healthcare workers new to the NHS should be offered a Hepatitis C test, and anyone performing surgical procedures should be tested for Hepatitis C by their health board.

For more information and advice:

Visit the Hepatitis C Trust website

Phone NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47

Majority of patients in Aneurin Bevan health board area

The infected healthcare professional worked at Caerphilly District Miners' Hospital between May 1984 and July 2003.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is leading the so-called 'Look Back Exercise', as the retired healthcare worker infected with Hepatitis C worked mainly at the old Caerphilly District Miners’ Hospital.

It is writing to at least 3,000 obstetric and gynaecology patients this week, and 2,000 more next week, who have possibly, or definitely, been treated by the worker.

The vast majority are in the Aneurin Bevan area, with a small number in Cwm Taf and Betsi Cadwaladr.

Patients will receive an individual letter that will ask them to ring a dedicated helpline to arrange an appointment in a specialist nurse clinic.

Blood tests are being offered in what the health board says is "a precautionary measure."

Dr Gill Richardson, Director of Public Health for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said, “We know that this will be a worrying time for those patients who will be contacted by letter, but we want to stress that the risk of transmission is low."

“Specialist nurse clinics have been set up and we will do all we can to support patients during this time. As many as one in 250 people carry Hepatitis C infection and it does not automatically lead to health problems."

“Treatment can help clear the infection in up to 80% of cases, which is why it’s important to identify anyone who may be at risk of having been infected so treatment can be started if necessary.”

Dedicated helpline for former patients

Cwm Taf Health Board says patients who may have been treated by a healthcare worker infected with Hepatitis C at the old East Glamorgan Hospital in Pontypridd will be asked to ring a dedicated helpline to arrange an appointment in a specialist nurse clinic.

Nicola John, director of public health at Cwm Taf Health Board, said: "We know this will be a very worrying time for patients who may have received obstetric and gynaecology treatment at East Glamorgan General Hospital between May and July 1984."

"However, we want to stress the risk of transmission to patients is small. But it is important that we get in touch with patients who may have been in contact with this worker during their treatment, which is why we are writing to some former patients, to ask them to contact the helpline."

The appointments helpline is open from today, from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Specialist clinics will start taking place from 13th September 2013 and patients who have tests will get their results in approximately two weeks.

North Wales health board: Low risk of transmission

The worker infected with Hepatitis C worked in the obstetric and gynaecology units at what was then Maelor General Hospital.

North Wales' health board says the healthcare professional infected with Hepatitis C worked briefly at Wrexham Maelor Hospital (known then as the Maelor General Hospital) in May and June 1978.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board says the risk of passing on the virus during a healthcare procedure is low, and could only happen if the worker suffered an injury causing them to bleed while treating the patient.

It says it has been reviewing its records, and obstetric and gynaecology patients from that time have been offered advice a blood test as a precautionary measure. Specialist clinic sessions will be held at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

Andrew Jones, Director of Public Health for the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “I know that this news will cause some concern for patients who were seen in Wrexham at around that time. However I want to stress that the risk of transmission is low."

"Even so, it is important that we contact patients who were treated by this person and offer them support and the opportunity of a blood test. This will allow us to give reassurance that all is well or, if we do identify a person who is carrying the virus, ensure they get advice and treatment."

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