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22 November 2014, 06:35
Five NHS workers from Scotland are leaving for Sierra Leone today to help in the fight against Ebola.
The men and women are part of a team of 30 medical volunteers being deployed by the UK Government to assist in the west African country.
The group of nurses, psychiatrists and emergency medicine consultants will arrive in the capital Freetown early tomorrow morning.
They will complete a week of training before moving to British-built Ebola treatment centres where they will diagnose and treat people with the virus, which has now claimed more than 5,000 lives.
The five Scottish volunteers include Dr Roger Alcock, a consultant in emergency and paediatric medicine at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Falkirk, and Pauline Cafferkey, an associate public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre, South Lanarkshire.
Dr Alcock said: "I have respect for the situation in Sierra Leone but I think with the training we've had we will be able to make a difference.
"My colleagues have been incredibly supportive, both on an individual and an organisational level. I think I have the skills as an emergency physician to help.''
More teams of volunteers are set to leave in the coming weeks after hundreds came forward to offer their services.
They have been preparing for deployment with intensive training at a Ministry of Defence facility in York.
Professor Tony Redmond, head of the charity UK Med, said: ''The actions of these selfless volunteers in going and the actions of their colleagues and managers to release them and cover for their duties is testimony if ever there was to the altruism that lies at the core of the NHS. I am very proud of them all."
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said almost 1,000 British military personnel, scientists, healthcare and aid workers are already on the ground.
She added: ''To beat Ebola we desperately need the experience and dedication of skilled doctors and nurses to care for the thousands of sick and dying patients who are not receiving the treatment they need.
''Every one of these NHS heroes will play a vital role in the fight against Ebola. It is only because of their combined efforts that we stand a chance of defeating this disease.''
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ''I want to thank the brave NHS volunteers who are heading to Sierra Leone today to help in the fight against Ebola.
"They embody the values at the heart of our health service and their expertise and dedication is second to none.''