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BMA says new guidance on health clearance for healthcare workers lacks clarity

16 March 2007

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Responding to the publication today (Friday 16 March) of guidance from the Department of Health on health clearance for new healthcare workers, the British Medical Association (BMA) said it welcomed any guidance that would ultimately improve the safety of patients, but that further clarification was needed as to how it will work in practice.

Emily Rigby, chair of the Medical Students Committee, said: “It is unclear how this guidance, as it relates to students, is going to work in practice. It is widely accepted that it is completely inappropriate for students to attempt exposure-prone procedures, yet the guidance notes there may be times when we do this sort of work. We are concerned that this could open the way for mandatory testing of students by their colleges on a “just in case” basis. That is something we would be totally against.

“The government must make clear to colleges that students should be treated in exactly the same way as other healthcare workers, ie they should only be tested if and when they are to carry out exposure-prone procedures. Proper information and support for any student undergoing testing is a must, and if a student chooses not to be tested then that decision cannot be allowed to affect their future training.”