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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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1,000 women ring emergency hotline over doctor's hepatitis scare

More than a thousand women have called an emergency hotline set up after it was revealed that a gynaecologist was infected with hepatitis C.

Health bosses revealed that the doctor, who worked in Carlisle among other places, may have unwittingly infected patients.

Two women are known to have developed the virus after contracting it from the unnamed man, who has since retired.

Healthcare officials have written to 5,500 women who received gynaecological or obstetric treatment at three Welsh hospitals. The gynaecologist also worked at the former maternity hospital in Carlisle, in Fusehill Street.

Around 1,500 women have so far called the emergency phone line.

Details of the worker, such as his name or age, have not been released but it is believed he worked in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Carlisle from time to time in 1978 and 1982.

Public Health England is now carrying out a ‘lookback’ patient notification exercise. This involves reviewing at least 3,000 former hospital patients’ notes and records from the Caerphilly District Miners Hospital.

Similar exercises will take place across all the hospitals where he practised.

A spokeswoman for North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust said: “We are aware that Public Health England are carrying out the lookback exercise and have been working with them to gather patient details.

“We would encourage anybody who receives a letter to contact the confidential helpline to arrange a blood test at their GP practice.”

Healthcare officials have stressed that the risk of infection is low.

Confidential helplines have been set up for anyone who fears they are at risk of hepatitis C, which can cause serious liver damage. Call 08000 858531, from 8am to 8pm, for information and advice.

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