NHS Ebola volunteers treat first patients

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The group of NHS volunteers preparing to check inImage source, Megan Bramall
Image caption,
The team left the UK on 22 November

A team of NHS volunteers, who flew to Sierra Leone last month to help in the fight against Ebola, has begun treating its first patients.

Consultant psychiatrist Martin Deahl, from Shropshire, said they were treating 10 patients at the clinic they set up but hoped to help 100.

He described the first patients as "rag dolls with the stuffing knocked out of them".

More than 7,000 people have died from the disease in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mali and the USA.

The group is spending five weeks in Sierra Leone and will return three days after Christmas.

Image caption,
The team helped set up a clinic

Mr Deahl said he had so far treated two adults and two children.

"They are frightened [and] very vulnerable but what's quite nice is that even if we don't speak the language, you can have a semblance of an empathetic relationship with them.

"Even wearing protective equipment, you can still hug them, you can squeeze their hand and they appreciate that."

Image source, Megan Bramall
Image caption,
Mr Deahl said they would increase patients numbers by groups of five

He said isolating the disease was the way to stop it spreading.

"It should come under control in the next three to four months and certainly we seem to have been able to control the spread to the others parts of the world."

The outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014 and has rapidly become the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976.