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NMC panel told that Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey ‘potentially put the public at risk’

Disciplinary panel to hear further evidence today about nurse’s conduct on returning to the UK from Sierra Leone.
Pauline Cafferkey

A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing into allegations of misconduct by Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey continues today.

On the first day of the hearing yesterday (Tuesday), an NMC panel in Edinburgh heard allegations that the Scottish nurse potentially put the public at risk through her behaviour as she passed through screening at Heathrow Airport on arrival from west Africa in late 2014.

Question of trust

The panel also heard claims that Ms Cafferkeys conduct had undermined public trust and confidence in the nursing profession. The allegations were made by a lawyer for the NMC.

The public health nurse was infected with the Ebola virus while volunteering in Sierra Leone during the Ebola epidemic in December 2014.

Past performance

Ms Cafferkeys legal team pointed to her previously unblemished record and insisted the legal threshold for a finding of misconduct against her has not been met.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing into allegations of misconduct by Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey continues today.

On the first day of the hearing yesterday (Tuesday), an NMC panel in Edinburgh heard allegations that the Scottish nurse ‘potentially put the public at risk’ through her behaviour as she passed through screening at Heathrow Airport on arrival from west Africa in late 2014.

Question of trust

The panel also heard claims that Ms Cafferkey’s conduct had ‘undermined’ public trust and confidence in the nursing profession. The allegations were made by a lawyer for the NMC.

The public health nurse was infected with the Ebola virus while volunteering in Sierra Leone during the Ebola epidemic in December 2014.

Past performance

Ms Cafferkey’s legal team pointed to her ‘previously unblemished record’ and insisted the legal threshold for a finding of misconduct against her has not been met.

Accusations that she acted dishonestly during her return to Heathrow were dropped after the panel ruled there was no reasonable prospect of them being proved.

She remains accused of allowing an incorrect temperature to be recorded during the screening process at the airport and of leaving the screening area at Heathrow without reporting her true temperature.

A high temperature is deemed to be an early sign of an infection.

‘Disorganised’ screening

In evidence put before the panel, it was claimed that screening staff from Public Health England at Heathrow ‘were not properly prepared to receive so many travellers from at-risk countries’ and this resulted in the area being described by some of those present as ‘busy, disorganised and even chaotic’.

Ms Cafferkey was cleared for onward travel, arrived in Glasgow late in the evening and awoke feeling ‘very unwell’ the following day.

She was diagnosed with Ebola the same day and spent almost a month being treated in an isolation unit at London’s Royal Free Hospital.

Ms Cafferkey recovered but had two further admissions to hospital – one with a relapse of the Ebola virus and the other with chronic meningitis.

The hearing continues.

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