October/November 2010 (vol. 07/3)

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Dilemma: Testing workers for bloodborne viruses:

Are the DoH guidelines on HIV testing for healthcare workers necessary?


Guidance from the Department of Health requires that new or returning NHS healthcare workers performing exposure-prone procedures must be non-infectious for HIV – as well as for hepatitis B and hepatitis C – and tested accordingly. Is this really necessary?

Geraldine Martell believes that the guidelines protect patients, benefit healthcare workers and safeguard the reputation of the health service.

Geraldine Martell is consultant occupational physician at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and vice-chair of the Association of National Health Service Occupational Physicians (ANHOPS).

Lee Salkeld has conducted questionnaire-based research on junior doctors’ experience of NHS pre-employment HIV screening under the DoH guidelines3. He argues that the guidelines do little to improve patient safety and are costly and unnecessary.

Lee Salkeld is a locum GP in Bristol and also works as a GP with a specialist interest in urgent care.

Author: Martell G, Salkeld L


Occupational Health at Work October/November 2010 (vol. 07/3) pp24-25

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