There is a potential health risk posed to patients from healthcare workers new to the NHS infected with serious communicable diseases, in particular HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and tuberculosis.
These draft guidelines have been considered by the Department of Health. All new healthcare workers will need to have standard health clearance for serious communicable diseases. Additional health clearance for blood-borne viruses will be needed for new healthcare workers who will perform exposure prone procedures.
The new proposals are not intended to prevent those infected with blood-borne viruses from working in the NHS, but to restrict them from working in those clinical areas where their infection may pose a risk to patients in their care. This is consistent with existing policy, which imposes restrictions on the working practices of those healthcare workers known to be infectious carriers of HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
All new healthcare workers who will perform exposure prone procedures need to have both standard and additional health clearance for serious communicable diseases before appointment or starting training, ie be free from infection with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and TB.
Standard and additional health checks should be carried out in their own country before applying for employment or training in the NHS. The results should be included in their health declaration. They should be aware of the professional responsibilities in relation to serious communicable diseases in the UK.
The employing NHS Trust or PCT (Primary Care Trust) or training institution should arrange for the necessary tests in this country to confirm the results of the tests already carried out before the post or training place is taken up.
- Checks for TB disease/immunity.
- Offer of Hepatitis B immunisation with post immunisation testing of response.
- Reminder of their professional responsibilities in relation to serious communicable disease.
- The offer of testing for Hepatitis C and HIV.
- Health checks to establish that they are not chronically infected with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV.