NHS receives new Department of Health guidance on screening staff for blood-borne viruses

The Department of Health has published new guidance to the NHS on screening new healthcare workers for tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

These measures are designed to help further reduce the risk of transmission of TB and blood-borne viruses from healthcare employee to patient.

All new health workers will require medical checks for TB and hepatitis B and will be offered vaccinations if needed.

In addition, all those new to performing “exposure prone procedures” that carry an increased risk of cross infection, such as surgery or obstetrics and gynaecology, must be cleared for hepatitis C and HIV.

The guidance follows expert advice from a risk assessment group and consultation with stakeholders, including the NHS, the Royal Colleges, academic institutions and public health bodies.

Public health minister Caroline Flint said: “Our aim is not to prevent new healthcare workers with blood-borne viruses from working in the NHS, but to stop them working in clinical areas where their infection may pose a risk to patients in their care.

“These new measures will protect patients, reduce the number of patient notification exercises, and help new healthcare workers to make appropriate career choices.”

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