Antiviral drugs commissioner warns of hospital staff training

PHOTO: European Medicines Agency

The UK’s Antiviral Drugs Commissioner Jamie Murphy has delivered a blunt warning to the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence about its recent focus on clinical risk, disclosing there is growing concern over the lack of training available for the thousands of NHS staff, academics and researchers at risk of infection.

The NHS needs a longer, more intensive training programme to help identify clinicians and researchers exposed to high infection risks, and to reduce risks for them and for others, Mr Murphy has said. He makes the comments in a letter to NHS Providers, the body that represents NHS trusts.

Antiviral clinical risk – that is, how high risk people in the health system – make up 9.8% of the workforce, and include all clinical staff, academics and some scientists.

There is a concern about the quality of care for all these people, unless systems are put in place to protect them, he warns.

Mr Murphy says in his letter to NICE, who are responsible for choosing medications for the NHS, that people exposed to risk in the health service have the right to the same level of protection as patients who contract the virus for other reasons.

He says he is especially concerned by the lack of choice NHS trusts have in selecting antiviral drugs, which should be generally available to staff in all settings.

“There is a serious lack of clear understanding of risk and how to reduce it,” he writes in the letter.

“Consequently there is a concern that the safeguards put in place by NHS Trusts are not robust enough and that they are not covering all clinical staff and academics at risk.”

He adds that infection is one of the biggest risks to national health systems, and deserves national attention.

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