HeadLine: HIV MEDIC SPARKS KILLER VIRUS SCARE
The Mirror, 16/05/2002, p7
by SHAUN MILNE
HUNDREDS of women are at the centre of an HIV health scare after a
medic who worked at a Scots hospital was diagnosed as having the killer
NHS bosses say 116 women in Scotland and a further 500 in England are
“potentially at risk” following treatment at the hands of the hospital
The Scottish Daily Mirror knows who the person is and the branch of
medicine at the centre of Britain’s latest medical HIV scare but we are
prevented from publishing the details for legal reasons.
NHS sources say the healthcare worker is a foreign national who arrived
in the UK four years ago.
Having worked in Scotland, the medic transferred to a hospital in Hull,
treating an all-female patient list.
The women affected were treated by the healthcare worker – who only
tested positive for HIV last week – at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness,
and an NHS hospital in Hull, East Yorkshire.
A source said: “This person is a well-liked member of staff.
“Unfortunately, the HIV virus was confirmed two days after the tests
and this person has not been back to work since.”
The medic worked at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, the main hospital for
the Highlands, between February 1999 and February 2000.
They assisted in invasive surgery on 116 women during that year.
A special Highland helpline was opened yesterday morning for anyone who
feels they have been put at risk or who needs additional information or
support – 0800 652 2699.
At a hastily organised press conference in Inverness yesterday, bosses
from Highland NHS Board accepted the shock news would cause concern
among many women.
Chief Executive Richard Carey said: “I want to pass my sincere
apologies to the women affected for the anxiety that has undoubtedly
He said the records of all 4,300 women who went through the Raigmore
department where the medic worked during the year had been examined by
a special incident team.
Public Health consultant with the Highland board, Dr Ken Oates said:
“The risk to women who attended Raigmore hospital and who were treated
by this health care worker is very low indeed.
“However, we do understand this case will cause concern and are
therefore are treating it very seriously.
“We have identified the 116 who have undergone certain types of
procedure by the infected worker.”
And Dr Russell Lee, head of service for the medic’s department, said:
“The health care worker was involved an a fairly restricted number of
“We have identified every occasion upon which this individual was
involved in operations.
“We are treating this extremely seriously, but the risk to the women is
“They have been told they can access clinics for counselling and
support, and also for HIV testing, if they wish.”
NHS Highland bosses found out about the infected worker after receiving
a phone call last Thursday evening from the health authority where the
man was currently working.
Mr Carey added: “We are trying to balance the interests of the public
with the interests of the individual and any right to confidentiality.”
Highland NHS said the person involved had been screened for hepatitis
before joining Raigmore, but had not declared he had HIV.
The women exposed to risk were offered counselling and blood tests.
They will then face an anxious five-day wait for the test results.
All the women were informed they were “potentially at risk” in an
official letter which should have dropped on their doormats yesterday.
Mike Stone, chief executive of the Patients Association, said last
night: “There have only ever been two cases of transmitted infections
“My message to these women is ‘don’t panic’. The risks are miniscule.”
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