NHS to overturn ban on HIV positive medics


MEDICS carrying the HIV virus will be allowed to operate on Scots patients without  their knowledge.

NHS bosses has agreed to reverse a ban on HIV positive surgeons because they consider the risks to be negligible.

As long as the Health workers are taking strong anti-retroviral drugs they would be allowed to carry out “exposure prone procedures” in the operating theatre, obstetrics and gynaecology departments.

Doctors could operate on patients without telling them they have HIV

They would also be able to work in dentistry, aspects of midwifery and take on specialist nursing roles.

Currently those infected with the virus are banned from carrying out surgery or dental treatment as they could infect their patient if they were to cut themselves.

However they are allowed to work as GPs, hospital doctors and nurses, and even allowed to give injections, because the risk is considered to e low.

But the Scottish Government could overturn the ban after experts advised them that the chances of a patient being infected by a health worker were “extremely low for the most invasive procedures and negligible for less invasive procedures.”

Just four cases of patients being infected by healthcare workers have bee reported worldwide, and none have been in the UK.

However more than 30 warnings being issued to patients about HIV positive staff between 1988 and 2008.

The scares resulted in 10,000 patients who had been treated by a worker infected with HIV being tested to check if they had contracted the virus.

Women in the Highlands were treated as recently as 2002 after receiving gynaecological care from an HIV positive doctor.

In 1992 four health boards began a frantic check of records after Dr Douglas Haire, 38, was found to have advanced from HIV to Aids. He later died from the condition.

And the following year Greater Glasgow Health Board issued an alert to 700 patients after Professor George Browning was found to have HIV.

But the expert working group advising Scottish ministers said health care workers were more likely to contract the disease from infected patients.

They estimate that  the rule change would have an effect on just 15 NHS staff.

Patients would still be notified if they had come into contact with an untreated staff member infected with HIV or if the workers were not responding to drugs used to control the virus.

Margaret Watt, of Scotland Patient Association, said while some patients were likely to be worried by the move, she trusted NHS professionals to manage the risks involved.

The Scottish Independent Hospitals Association (SIHA) also supports the plans.

In a submission to the Scottish Government they warned that medics with HIV should also be sure they are not carrying other blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis C or B.

It warned: “In regard to the latter, anecdotally, SIHA are aware of at least one case of an HIV positive orthopaedic surgeon who was previously naturally immune  to Hepatitis B on testing but who reactivated for Hepatitis B.

“The Hepatitis B was then transmitted to a patient, though HIV was not.”