FORMER maternity and gynaecology patients are being contacted amid fears a hospital worker could have spread the hepitatis C virus.
A former healthcare worker who worked at Wrexham Maelor Hospital in the late 1970s has been diagnosed with hepitatis C.
The worker, now retired, spent a short spell at the Maelor, with the majority spent in South Wales.
The worker is known to have transmitted the virus to two people between 1984 and 2003.
Health officials say the risk of the virus spreading is low, but are starting to make contact with former patients, which they stress is a precautionary measure.
Andrew Jones, director of Public Health for the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), said: “I know that this news will cause some concern for patients who were seen in Wrexham at around that time.
“However, I want to stress that the risk of transmission is low.
“Even so, it is important we contact patients who were treated by this person and offer them support and the opportunity of a blood test.
“This will allow us to give reassurance that all is well or, if we do identify a person who is carrying the virus, ensure they get the appropriate advice and treatment.”
Mr Jones said the health board is now tracking down everyone who may have been treated by the worker in question.
“Because we are tracing old records and checking them very carefully against current information to make sure we have the right information and personal contact details for people, this work is taking time,” he added.
“We will continue writing to people over the course of the next few weeks.
“We are only writing to people who had a procedure where there is a theoretical risk that the infection might have been passed on and where this was, or might have been, carried out by the affected health care worker.
“Only people who receive a letter need to contact the helpline.”
A spokesman for BCUHB said it has yet to be established how many former Maelor patients are to be contacted, but it is expected to only be a small number of maternity and gynaecology patients at that time.
The former worker, who has been diagnosed with hepitatis C, was based at the Maelor from May 15, 1978 to June 27, 1978.
No details on the person’s identity have been released.
The healthcare worker was based mainly at Caerphilly District Miners’ Hospital but worked for a short time at the old East Glamorgan Hospital in Pontypridd and was also employed in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The risk of passing on the hepatitis C virus during a health care procedure is low, and could only happen if the healthcare worker suffered an injury that caused them to bleed while treating a patient.
A dedicated helpline has been set up by the Aneurin Bevan Health Board in South Wales which is leading the work.
Patients who receive a letter will be asked to contact the helpline to arrange an appointment at specialist clinic sessions, which will be held at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
If any patient has concern or wants additional information they should phone NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.