HIV, hepatitis tests for some UK health workers
Last Updated: 2003-01-02 10:00:03 -0400 (Reuters Health)
LONDON (Reuters Health) -- Doctors, nurses and other health
jobs in Britain's National Health Service (NHS) will be
required to test
negative for HIV and hepatitis B and C before taking up
under new measures put forward by the government.
All new NHS staff whose work involves "exposure-prone
procedures" will have
to be tested for the blood-borne viruses, the Department of
Health said in
a draft document released on Thursday.
These procedures--where an injury to the worker could expose a
their blood--mainly happen in surgery, obstetrics and
dentistry and midwifery.
The government document defines them as procedures where the
gloved hands might be in contact with sharp instruments,
needle tips or
body parts like bone or teeth inside a body cavity or wound
where the hands
or fingertips are not always completely visible.
They do not include procedures such as taking blood, giving
The new rules toughen existing codes of practice that require
workers to get tested for diseases like HIV if they think they
been exposed to infection.
"These new measures, based on expert advice, are designed
protection for patients still further by extending existing
said Pat Troop, deputy chief medical officer.
The new rules were not intended to prevent people with HIV or
or C from working in the NHS, the government said,
"because most health
care procedures do not pose a risk of transmitting these
patients or colleagues."
New health care workers are defined as those newly recruited
to the NHS or
working in the NHS for the first time, including students and
surgical teams from overseas.
The draft guidance is based on advice from an expert group set
up in 2001.
The NHS, professional groups and patient organisations have
until April 30
to comment. A Department of Health spokesman said there was no
timeframe for implementing the new rules, but that it would
probably be in
the second half of 2003.
There have only been two cases worldwide of HIV transmission
care workers to patients, neither of them in the UK, the
Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited.