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Nurse concealed Pauline Cafferkey's high temperature, NMC panel finds

Nurse Donna Wood will learn today whether she is to face sanctions after a Nursing and Midwifery Council panel found three misconduct charges against her were proven.
Donna Wood

A nurse travelling back from Sierra Leone concealed that colleague Pauline Cafferkey had a raised temperature indicating she was infected with the Ebola virus, a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has found.

Donna Wood will learn today to whether she is to face sanctions after a NMC panel found three misconduct charges against her were proven.

Ms Wood returned to the UK with publich health nurse Ms Cafferkey on 28 December 2014 after volunteering in West Africa.

The pair's group passed through passport control at Heathrow airport before being pulled aside for screening. Ms Wood appeared before an independent NMC panel facing three misconduct charges, including recording Ms Cafferkey's temperature reading dishonestly in order to hide it from public health officials.

The panel found she was aware that Ms Cafferkey's temperature was above the nationally-set threshold, but

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A nurse travelling back from Sierra Leone concealed that colleague Pauline Cafferkey had a raised temperature indicating she was infected with the Ebola virus, a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has found. 

Nurse Donna Wood
Nurse Donna Wood. Picture: PA News

Donna Wood will learn today to whether she is to face sanctions after a NMC panel found three misconduct charges against her were proven.

Ms Wood returned to the UK with publich health nurse Ms Cafferkey on 28 December 2014 after volunteering in West Africa.

The pair's group passed through passport control at Heathrow airport before being pulled aside for screening. Ms Wood appeared before an independent NMC panel facing three misconduct charges, including recording Ms Cafferkey's temperature reading dishonestly in order to hide it from public health officials.

The panel found she was aware that Ms Cafferkey's temperature was above the nationally-set threshold, but suggested that a lower temperature of 37.2C be recorded on her screening form so that the group could leave the ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘chaotic’ area more quickly.

Decision to be made

The panel will today decide whether Ms Wood's actions amount to misconduct and whether this impairs her current fitness to practise as a nurse. If they decide it does, she could face a range of sanctions, including being struck off.
The panel heard how doctor Hannah Ryan had taken Ms Cafferkey's temperature twice, with readings of 38.2C and 38.3C.A temperature above 37.5C required further assessment by doctors at the Public Health England (PHE) screening room. However Ms Wood then failed to appropriately escalate the 38C+ reading, the panel ruled.

Ms Wood told the hearing she recalled seeing Dr Ryan with the thermometer, and that she had held it up to her at least once.She added she could not remember whether she had written on any screening forms herself. The panel could not prove she had written the incorrect temperature on Ms Cafferkey's forms but said it was satisfied she had dishonestly suggested it be recorded as such.

Panel chair Najrul Khasru said it had fully accepted that Ms Wood's desire to get out of the area quickly was the ‘primary motivation’ of her dishonesty.

He said: ‘The panel found you made the suggestion to record Ms Cafferkey's temperature 37.2C with the intention to conceal that Ms Cafferkey had a temperature higher than 38C from PHE screening staff in order to allow yourself and your group to leave the area sooner rather than later, and deal with it later.’

Duty of care

The nurse previously denied this, telling the panel the idea that she would hide someone's temperature was ‘preposterous’ as she would not put anyone in danger of the virus. Despite the fact that Ms Cafferkey was not a patient but a colleague, the hearing was told Ms Wood, as a registered nurse, had a duty of care to her and should have escalated the raised temperature.

After the group left the screening room and made it to the arrivals hall, Dr Ryan reported Ms Cafferkey's high temperature to another doctor, who recommended she return to be screened again.

Ms Cafferkey's temperature was checked again three times by a PHE consultant and was found to be a maximum of 37.6C, meaning she was given the all-clear to travel on to Glasgow.

But at some point before getting to arrivals, Ms Cafferkey had taken paracetamol, contributing to the lower readings. The following day, she became extremely ill and was admitted to hospital, where she was diagnosed with Ebola.

 Ms Cafferkey was cleared at a hearing in September of allowing the incorrect temperature to be recorded. An NMC panel found three charges against her proven by admission but said her fitness to practise was not affected.

It ruled her judgment at the airport had been so impaired by the developing illness that she could not be found guilty of misconduct.

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