University of Derby Students called for blood testing after potential infection risk identified

NHS England has been working with Public Health England (PHE) and the University of Derby to undertake an investigation into the vaccination and blood testing procedures of a healthcare worker, formerly contracted to provide services within the Occupational Health Service at the University of Derby.

The investigation has examined all available University of Derby health records dating back to 2005. It has identified that 606 past and current students on professional programmes may have been placed at an extremely low risk of infection from blood borne viruses (hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV), due to the use of incorrect clinical procedures whilst undertaking blood tests and vaccinations.

Affected students who received blood tests and vaccinations from this particular health care worker at the Occupational Health Service from September 2005 up to October 2013 have been contacted by letter, inviting them to attend a hospital or their GP for a blood test. A dedicated confidential advice line for students which can be accessed seven days a week, has been established on 03330 142479 to provide further help and support.

“We are extremely sorry for the undoubted worry and concern people we are contacting may feel on receiving this news. I would however like to stress that the risk is extremely low and would encourage all those we contact, who may not already have been screened after their time at the university, to present themselves for blood testing.

”As part of our investigation the healthcare worker involved has been reported to the appropriate regulatory body and has been suspended, pending further investigation. We are working closely with the University of Derby and Public Health England to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”

NHS England has been leading the investigation with support from clinicians at Public Health England and representatives from the University of Derby.

Dr Sophia Makki, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, PHE East Midlands said: “We have worked hard to identify those individuals who may have been at risk of contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV and I would like to emphasise the risk of infection is extremely low and that we are offering testing as a precautionary measure.

“Effective treatments are available for all blood borne viruses, which is why it is important to identify anyone who may have been at risk of infection so treatment can be started if necessary.”

The University of Derby has contacted all of the 606 individuals identified at being at risk by letter to explain the next steps.

Professor John Coyne, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby said: “This is a deeply regrettable incident, and it does mean that we need to contact a significant number of our current and former students to ensure they get the information and guidance they need. I apologise for the potential distress this may cause to the people involved.

“We are working closely with NHS England and Public Health England to provide support and assistance to those people who may be affected by this issue, and will continue to do so tirelessly in the coming weeks to ensure that all appropriate support is available and provided.

“An advice line has been set up by the University, with clinical support from Public Health England, to provide advice and guidance to callers.  Those who receive a letter are advised to call 03330 142479 for further information on what actions they should take next.”