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23 November 2016, 19:53
A nurse travelling back from Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone concealed the fact that Pauline Cafferkey had a raised temperature indicating she was infected with the deadly virus, a tribunal has found.
Donna Wood returned to the UK with Pauline Cafferkey, who survived the outbreak, and the pair's group passed through passport control at Heathrow airport before being pulled aside for screening.
Wood appeared before an independent panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in Stratford, east London, facing three misconduct charges, including recording Ms Cafferkey's temperature reading dishonestly in order to hide it from public health officials
The panel found she was aware that Ms Cafferkey's temperature was above the nationally-set threshold, but suggested that a lower temperature of 37.2C (99F) be recorded on her screening form so that the group could leave the ''uncomfortable'' and ''chaotic'' area more quickly.
Doctor Hannah Ryan had taken Ms Cafferkey's temperature twice, with readings of 38.2C and 38.3C (101F).
A temperature above 37.5C (100F) required further assessment by doctors at the Public Health England (PHE) screening room.
However Wood then failed to appropriately escalate the 38C+ reading which took place on December 28 2014, the panel ruled.
Najrul Khasru, chairman of the panel, said it had fully accepted that Wood's desire to get out of the area quickly was the ''primary motivation'' of her dishonesty.
He said: ''The panel found you made the suggestion to record Ms Cafferkey's temperature 37.2C with the intention to conceal that Ms Cafferkey had a temperature higher than 38C from PHE screening staff in order to allow yourself and your group to leave the area sooner rather than later, and deal with it later.''
The nurse previously denied this, telling the panel the idea that she would hide someone's temperature was ''preposterous'' as she would not put anyone in danger of the virus.
Despite the fact that Ms Cafferkey was not a patient but a colleague, the hearing was told Wood, as a registered nurse, had a duty of care to her and should have escalated the raised temperature.
All three misconduct charges, which Wood had denied, were proved.
The panel heard that in an attempt to help doctors and staff conducting screening at Heathrow airport, the medics decided they would take their own temperatures.
Wood said she recalled seeing Dr Ryan with the thermometer, and that she had held it up to her at least once.
She added she could not remember whether she had or had not written on any screening forms herself.
The panel could not prove she had written the incorrect temperature on Ms Cafferkey's forms but said it was satisfied she had dishonestly suggested it be recorded as such.
After the group left the screening room and made it to the arrivals hall, Dr Ryan reported Ms Cafferkey's high temperature to another doctor, who recommended the Scottish medic return to be screened again.
Ms Cafferkey's temperature was checked again three times by a PHE consultant and was found to be a maximum of 37.6C (100F), meaning she was given the all-clear to travel on to Glasgow.
But at some point before getting to arrivals, Ms Cafferkey had taken paracetamol, contributing to the lower readings.
The following day, she became ''extremely ill'' and was admitted to hospital, where she was diagnosed with Ebola.
The panel will decide on Thursday whether Wood's actions amount to misconduct and whether this impairs her current fitness to practise as a nurse.
If they decide it does, Wood could face a range of sanctions including being struck off.