Press Release

Minister for Health and Children welcomes IMO decision on testing of NCHDs for Blood-borne Diseases

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin, T.D., today (20th December 2001) welcomed the decision of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to withdraw it’s instruction to non-consultant hospital doctors not to cooperate with staff programmes for screening/testing for blood-borne diseases. The Minister welcomed, as a positive step, the fact that IMO members were now joining their dental, nursing and health care colleagues in participating in these important programmes.

The Minister once again stated that screening and vaccination programmes for healthcare workers are key elements in a strategy designed to prevent the transmission of blood-borne disease in the health care setting. “The need to ensure the safety, of both patient and health care worker, from infection by these blood-borne diseases is paramount”, the Minister said.

Arrangements are currently being finalised between the Health Service Employers Agency (HSEA) and the IMO on proposals to meet the concerns of doctors who may be exposed to potential infection from blood-borne disease and/or the needs of doctors who may become infected and may require retraining and/or redeployment. The Minister confirmed that these arrangements will apply to all health care workers carrying out exposure prone procedures.

The Minister stated that he is particularly anxious to ensure that, in the interests of everyone concerned, all staff working within the Irish health service should undergo pre-employment health screening and, where necessary, vaccination. The Minister also stressed the necessity for follow up screening/testing at appropriate intervals.

The Minister added that the Standing Advisory Group on the Prevention of Transmission of Blood-Borne Disease in the Health Care Setting is currently updating and revising it´s guidelines in this area. The report of this expert group will contain guidelines, advice and protocols based on best practice in the area of prevention of transmission of blood borne disease. The report will be published in early 2002.