HC Deb 18 July 2002 vol 389 c537W
Bob Spink

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to protect patients from the risks posed by nurses who carry HIV. [69221]

Ms Blears

Existing guidelines place nurses and other health care workers, who are or may be HIV infected, under ethical and legal duties to protect the health and safety of their patients by seeking counselling and HIV testing if they believe they have been at risk of infection. If infected, they are required to seek and follow confidential occupational health advice about the need to modify or limit their working practices.

While the safety of patients is of paramount importance, it should be recognised that the procedures involved in most nursing duties do not pose a risk of HIV infection to patients, provided normal infection control precautions are observed. There have been no reported cases of HIV transmission from infected health care workers to patients in the UK.

Bob Spink

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what checks he makes on foreign nurses for HIV before they are employed in the United Kingdom. [69222]

Mr. Hutton

Nurses recruited into the national health service from abroad are subject to the same pre-appointment checks as those recruited within the United Kingdom. NHS employers are required to satisfy themselves of the immunisation status of applicants and only when an applicant does not pose a risk of infection to patients from infectious diseases should employment be recommended.

Being HIV positive is not a bar to NHS employment but does preclude certain invasive (exposure prone) procedures being performed such as surgery and midwifery.

Tim Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Geraldine Smith) of 2 July 2002,Official Report, column 310W, on nurses, how many nurse consultant posts have been introduced; and of these how many are new nurses to have been recruited to these roles. [71069]

Mr. Hutton

Over 750 nurse, midwife and health visitor consultants posts have now been approved in 10 tranches, the first in January 2000 and the latest in June 2002.

Nurse, midwife and health visitor consultants appointees are senior, experienced practitioners with advanced education and qualifications relevant to the speciality to which they are appointed. Guidance issued to the national health service, Health Service Circular 1999/217, makes it clear that selection should be by fair and open competition.