THE last of more than 40 clinics organised in Gwent to take blood tests from women who requested them after it was revealed a former healthcare worker had hepatitis C, has been held.

And a dedicated helpline to take calls from worried patients in the aftermath of the scare, has been closed.

Ten weeks after Aneurin Bevan Health Board revealed a now-retired frontline employee had inadvertently passed on hepatitis C to two patients, the testing regime set up to help thousands of patients who had been treated by that worker is now largely completed, though the results from the final clinics will not be available until the end of this month at the earliest.

The final figures and details have not yet been released, but more than two-thirds of around 5,000 women in the Gwent area invited by the health board to have a hepatitis C test, took up the offer.

They were contacted by letter in September, after an exhaustive search of patient and surgical records by health board staff over several months, to trace as many as possible of those treated by the healthcare worker.

The worker, who retired in 2003, was subsequently found to have hepatitis C and was linked to cases in two patients.

The blood-borne virus, discovered in 1989, can cause liver inflammation and if untreated, chronic liver disease and very rarely, cancer.

The worker was unaware they had the virus during their career and does not know how they picked it up. They worked at Caerphilly District Miners’ Hospital from May 1984 to July 2003.

Around 500 women from other parts of Wales and the UK who also were treated, or may have been treated, by the worker during the 1970s and 1980s, were also contacted.

The focus has been on women who underwent major obstetric or gynaecological treatments with which the healthcare worker was involved, including caesarian sections, hysterectomies, and ovary removals.

l Any patient who received a letter in September, but who has not already contacted the helpline for a test, and still requires one, should contact their GP. General queries can be made through NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47.