Doc­tor faces hear­ing over Ebola nurse

SPE­CIAL RE­PORT

Sunday Herald - - 19.03.17 NEWS -

BY JU­DITH DUFFY

THE Scots nurse who sur­vived Ebola is ex­pected to give ev­i­dence this week at the dis­ci­plinary hear­ing of a doc­tor who took her tem­per­a­ture hours be­fore she was di­ag­nosed with the disease. Dr Hannah Ryan is the lat­est health pro­fes­sional to face mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions af­ter an air­port screening process failed to raise the alert over Pauline Caf­fer­key fol­low­ing her re­turn to the UK from a vol­un­teer­ing stint in Sierra Leone in 2014.

Ryan, who was also a vol­un­teer in Sierra Leone, is fac­ing al­le­ga­tions of “mis­lead­ing ac­tions” and “dis­hon­est con­duct” af­ter tak­ing Caf­fer­key’s tem­per­a­ture. The al­le­ga­tions also state that she later tried to con­ceal her in­volve­ment in the tak­ing of Caf­fer­key’s tem­per­a­ture.

De­spite Caf­fer­key hav­ing a high tem­per­a­ture she was given the green light to travel from Heathrow to Glas­gow. When she fell ill it trig­gered a ma­jor health alert and she had to be taken by mil­i­tary trans­port to the Royal Free Hos­pi­tal in Lon­don. Caf­fer­key faced mis­con­duct charges by the Nurs­ing and Mid­wifery Coun­cil (NMC) but was cleared of all charges in Septem­ber last year.

In Novem­ber, se­nior nurse Donna Wood, an­other vol­un­teer in Sierra Leone, was sus­pended for two months by the NMC af­ter a dis­ci­plinary panel found she had con­cealed the true tem­per­a­ture of Caf­fer­key.

Ryan was a wit­ness at that hear­ing, which heard how she had taken Caf­fer­key’s tem­per­a­ture and found it was was 38.2C – higher than the thresh­old of 37.5C that re­quires a con­sul­tant in in­fec­tious dis­eases to carry out an as­sess­ment.

In a writ­ten state­ment, Ryan said: “I asked Pauline if she was feel­ing OK? She said she was feel­ing fine. I stood there in shock. It was like I was paral­ysed. I had no clear thought process.”

She also told the hear­ing Wood had said some­thing like: “I’m just go­ing to write it down as 37.2 de­grees” so they could “get out of here and sort it out”.

The Med­i­cal Prac­ti­tion­ers Tri­bunal Ser­vice said: “The tri­bunal will en­quire into the al­le­ga­tion that, on 28 De­cem­ber 2014, whilst in the Public Health Eng­land screening area at Heathrow Air­port, and af­ter tak- ing Ms A’s tem­per­a­ture, Dr Ryan’s ac­tions were mis­lead­ing and her con­duct was dis­hon­est. It is also al­leged that, in a tele­phone call with Dr C on 2 Jan­uary 2015, Dr Ryan’s con­duct was mis­lead­ing and also dis­hon­est in that she in­tended to con­ceal her in­volve­ment in, the tak­ing and record­ing of Ms A’s tem­per­a­ture.”

Caf­fer­key spent al­most a month in iso­la­tion in hos­pi­tal af­ter be­ing struck down with Ebola in De­cem­ber 2014.

Af­ter she was cleared of mis­con­duct, Caf­fer­key crit­i­cised Public Health Eng­land, which was in charge of the “chaotic” air­port screening process.

She said: “I went out there to help save lives but I came back to a sys­tem that failed. I was made a scape­goat for a cat­a­logue of er­rors.”

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