Ebola Nurse Facing Investigation

23 February 2015, 19:32 | Updated: 23 February 2015, 19:36

A Scottish nurse who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone is being investigated following allegations about her conduct and that of four colleagues.

Pauline Cafferkey flew back to the UK via Casablanca and London Heathrow before landing at Glasgow Airport late on December 28.

She was admitted to hospital in Glasgow early the next morning after feeling feverish before being diagnosed with the disease, which has left more than 9,000 people dead.

Public Health England (PHE) said it has passed information to the General Medical Council (GMC) and Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) after assessing the screening of healthcare workers returning to the UK.

Three nurses and two doctors are now being investigated.

A PHE spokeswoman said: "During our recent assessment of the screening of some returning healthcare workers at Heathrow on December 28th, information emerged which needed to be passed to the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

"We are aware that the regulators are now considering the matter and it would be inappropriate for PHE to comment further at this time."

A NMC spokeswoman said: "Following information we received from Public Health England, we can confirm that we are investigating allegations about the conduct of three nurses.

"It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."

A spokeswoman for the GMC said: "Following information received from Public Health England, we can confirm that we are investigating circumstances related to two doctors.

"Our inquiries are at an early stage, and we are not able to provide any more detail at this point."

Ms Cafferkey, from Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire, had been volunteering with Save The Children at the Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Kerry Town before returning to the UK in December.

She spent more than three weeks being treated at the Royal Free Hospital where she was critically ill for a time, but was released last month after making a full recovery.

A report released earlier this month found that Ms Cafferkey possibly caught the virus by wearing a visor and not goggles, although this could not be certain.

Her temperature was tested seven times before she flew from Heathrow to Glasgow and she was cleared to travel, Save The Children said.

Ms Cafferkey said she did not feel unwell until she went to bed that evening and, after becoming feverish, she followed advice given to her at Heathrow to contact local services.

After a blood sample tested positive for Ebola, she was transferred from Glasgow's Gartnavel Hospital to London where she was treated with convalescent plasma taken from the blood of recovered European patients and the experimental anti-viral drug ZMabb, which is not the same as ZMapp, which was used to treat British nurse William Pooley.

The report said Ms Cafferkey had undergone training in the UK and initially went to work for another non-governmental organisation in a different treatment centre.

She was re-deployed after two weeks to the Save The Children centre where she was given further training in the charity's protocols but was not able to use the standard protective goggles used there because she could not get them to fit properly, the report said.

It said she had acquired a visor which was the same as the one used in her initial training and similar to the one she had worn at the other centre but that was not used by Save The Children.

The charity said both pieces of equipment were "equally safe" but there are slight differences in the type of clothing worn with each and in the protocols for putting them on and removing them.