Nottingham patients have been recalled after finding out that they might have been in contact with a doctor who has been diagnosed with HIV.
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) has written to 223 patients treated in Nottingham to advise they return for a blood test as a precautionary measure.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the cause of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and infected people may remain well for many years.
NUH Medical Director, Dr Stephen Fowlie, said: “The risk that any patient has been infected by transmission of the virus from the doctor is extremely low.
“However, because the doctor’s diagnosis was unknown during their employment with us (2013-2015), we are contacting patients who had had at risk operations involving this doctor to advise they return to hospital for a blood test as a precautionary measure.”
In 2015 an estimated 101,200 people were living in the UK with HIV according to government records.
In Nottingham 2.78 per 1,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2012 and there has been a gradual increase since 2006, though the likelihood of catching the disease remains very low even in direct contact.
Dr Fowlie added: “Transmission of the virus between an infected healthcare worker and a patient with an open wound can only occur if health workers themselves have an injury with bleeding when they are delivering patient care. There is no evidence this happened to this doctor in any patient contact.”
HIV is not passed on through everyday social contact with an infected person. Touching, shaking hands, hugging, coughing or sneezing cannot pass on the virus but it is caught when there is blood to blood contact.
A dedicated helpline 0800 0152804 has been set up to help anyone who has been affected by the information.
Patient recalls have also been made by Chesterfield Royal hospitals trust and Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust.
The doctor in question no longer works for the NHS after the General Medical Council issued a suspension order earlier this year.
Although precautions have been taken to recall patients the Nottingham Hospitals Trust have assured that they have very strict infection control and hygiene requirements for all health workers.
Dr David Levy, Regional Medical Director for NHS England Midlands and East, said: “We understand that this will be a worrying time for patients who are being invited for precautionary testing and their families.
“However, clinical evidence shows that the risk of infection is extremely low and it is highly unlikely that any of the patients being contacted will have been infected with HIV.”