Eight women at Queen’s Hospital “at small risk of miscarriage” after contact with ill doctor

A small group of expectant mothers who were seen at Queen’s Hospital are at risk of miscarriage or pregnancy complications after contact with an ill doctor.

In all, eight women are at risk of infection. Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust, which runs Queen’s Hospital, confirmed all of them had been notified.

The consultant, who works in women’s services at the Romford hospital, was unaware she was carrying the B19 strain of the parvovirus infection – also known as “slapped cheek disease” – and continued to see pregnant women before discovering she was ill.

The affected women won’t know if they’ve been infected with the virus, which carries a small chance of miscarriage or blood problems for unborn babies, until tests are carried out.

One concerned mum-to-be told the Recorder: “They’ve done a blood test to see if I’m immune. They have to monitor me closely and a do whole lot of stuff that could involve a blood transfusion to the baby while it’s still inside me.”

The illness is normally mild and often contracted in childhood. Up to 60 per cent of adults are immune – but for a small percentage of pregnant women it can potentially be devastating.

A spokesman for the Health Protection Agency, the independent organisation set up by the government to protect the public from infectious diseases, said: “For pregnant women infected with parvovirus B19, there is a small risk of miscarriage and of complications for the baby.

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“Pregnant women who may have been in contact with a case of parvovirus B19 during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy need to be assessed, and if necessary, offered screening and closely monitored as a precaution.

“This year there has been a marked increase in the number of parvovirus B19 infections.”

Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust’s chief executive Averil Dongworth said: “It is extremely unlikely that any of the women would have contracted this very common virus, but we are following national guidelines to ensure the very highest levels of patient care and clinical governance.

“The eight women we have contacted are being invited to have a simple test to confirm that they have not developed the virus. In the unlikely event that they have contracted parvovirus they will, of course, receive the appropriate care and be closely monitored.

“Anyone at the slightest risk has been contacted, so if women have not heard from the trust in regard to this issue they can be confident that they are unaffected.”