Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey to speak at doctor's tribunal

Doctor admits 'misleading' other health professionals during airport screening in relation to the nurse's temperature but denies misconduct
Pauline Cafferkey

Pauline Cafferkey will today give evidence at the tribunal of a doctor who admits 'misleading' other health professionals in relation to the nurse's temperature before she became seriously ill with ebola.

Nurse Pauline Cafferkey became seriously ill the day after returning from Sierra Leone
in December 2014. Picture: PA

Public health nurse Ms Cafferkey was with doctor Hannah Ryan and another nurse, Donna Wood, on their return from Sierra Leone in December 2014 after volunteering during an outbreak of the virus in west Africa.

While waiting to be screened for the virus at Heathrow Airport by health professionals from Public Health England (PHE), Dr Ryan took Ms Cafferkey's temperature, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service heard on Monday. The reading was 38.2°C – above the 37.5°C threshold for further assessment to rule out infectious disease.


Dr Ryan told the hearing she was in 'disbelief, fear and panic' at the raised reading and instead of alerting PHE staff, a lower temperature of 37.2°C was recorded. 

Ms Cafferkey was then allowed to catch a connecting flight to Glasgow to travel home. She fell seriously ill the next day and tested positive for the Ebola virus.

Dr Ryan has admitted misleading others and that she 'acquiesced' in the wrong temperature being given, but denies misconduct in her actions at the airport and during a subsequent investigation by PHE.

Ms Cafferkey will give evidence at the tribunal in Manchester.

In September last year, Ms Cafferkey was cleared of misconduct following an investigation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) into whether she hid symptoms of ebola. The panel ruled that Ms Cafferkey, from Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, had not set out to mislead PHE screening staff at the airport, and that the early symptoms of ebola would have impaired her judgement.

Fellow nurse Ms Wood was given a two-month suspension by the NMC in November. She was found to have concealed Ms Cafferkey's temperature after suggesting a lower temperature be recorded so they could pass through the screening process more quickly. Panel chair Najrul Khasru said Ms Wood's actions were 'an isolated incident in an otherwise long and unblemished career'.

Dr Ryan's tribunal continues.

In other news