HC Deb 18 March 1993 vol 221 cc350-1W
Mr. David Young

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will make it the duty of a practice employing a doctor with AIDS to inform the district health authority of his condition;

(2) if she will make a statement on the case of the doctor with AIDS who was employed by Bolton health authority as a locum on casualty; and what measures she will take to ensure that such a case does not recur.

Dr. Mawhinney

The United Kingdom health departments' guidance to health care workers, who perform or assist in invasive procedures and know or suspect that they have been exposed to HIV, states that they must obtain occupational advice on the possible need to alter their work practices and remain under close medical supervision if they continue to work. Ethical guidance from the professional bodies makes clear that health care workers have an overriding duty to put their patients' interests first. Failure to follow this guidance would raise the question of serious professional misconduct.

The chief professional officers to the Department of Health will meet the General Medical Council, the General Dental Council and the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting on 19 March to consider further steps that can be taken to ensure that their guidance in relation to health care workers and their ethical duties towards patients is known and understood by all health care workers.

Mr. David Young

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to release the name of the Bolton doctor who died of an AIDS-related disease, with details of all his previous work in the NHS; and if she will make appropriate counselling available to all his previous patients.

Mr. Sackville

Bolton health authority has released the name of the health care worker involved, and the health boards for which he worked. It has set up a helpline to offer reassurance through counselling and if requested, testing. All patients seen by the doctor at Bolton royal infirmary have been identified and are being contacted. The two health boards in Northern Ireland have similarly set up helplines and are contacting former patients whose treatment by the health care worker involved invasive procedures.

Mr. David Young

To ask the Secretary of State for Health under what guidelines the condition of a doctor with AIDS can be known to his colleagues in the practice but withheld form patients treated by the doctor.

Dr. Mawhinney

All medical information is confidential except for well defined circumstances where there is a risk to the public health. The United Kingdom health departments' guidelines "AIDS—HIV Infected Health Care Workers" requires health care workers who know or suspect they have been exposed to HIV to seek medical and occupational advice on the need to modify their work practices and refrain from invasive procedures.

In cases where the health care worker has performed invasive procedures and a study is needed, involving contacting former patients, his employer is necessarily involved. Wherever possible the identity of the health care worker is kept confidential.

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