A small number of obstetric (maternity) and gynaecology patients who were treated at Wrexham Maelor Hospital in the late 1970s are being contacted by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board as a precautionary measure.
The Health Board was recently notified that a former healthcare worker, who worked briefly at the Hospital in the summer of 1978, has been diagnosed with the Hepatitis C virus.
The person concerned worked elsewhere in the UK, mainly in South Wales, and is now known to have transmitted the virus to two patients between 1984 and 2003.
The Health Board has been reviewing clinical records from that period to identify patients who may have been treated by the affected healthcare worker at that time.
The risk of passing on the Hepatitis C virus during a health care procedure is low, and could only happen if the healthcare worker suffered an injury that caused them to bleed while treating a patient.
Although the risk is low, as a precautionary measure the Health Board will be writing to patients who may have been treated by the affected healthcare worker to offer them advice and a blood test for Hepatitis C.
A dedicated helpline has been set up by the Aneurin Bevan Health Board who are leading this work for Wales. Patients who receive a letter will be asked to contact the helpline to arrange an appointment at specialist clinic sessions which will be held at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
Mr 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 the appropriate advice and treatment.
“Because we are tracing old records and checking them very carefully against current information to make sure we have the right information and personal contact details for people, this work is taking time. We will continue writing to people over the course of the next few weeks.
“We are only writing to people who had a procedure where there is a theoretical risk that the infection might have been passed on and where this was, or might have been, carried out by the affected health care worker. Only people who receive a letter need to contact the helpline.”
The affected healthcare worker was at Wrexham Maelor Hospital for a short period from 15th May to 27th June in 1978. People who do not receive a letter should not be concerned. If any patient has concern or wants additional information they should phone NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 for further advice.
Further information about Hepatitis C is available on the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board website www.bcu.wales.nhs.uk and from the Hepatitis C Trust at www.hepctrust.org.uk.
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