Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey 'concealed temperature'

pauline cafferkey
Image caption Ms Cafferkey will face a disciplinary hearing in Edinburgh next month

Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey faces disciplinary action over claims she concealed her temperature at an Ebola screening on her return to the UK.

The 40-year-old was infected with the virus while at a treatment centre in Sierra Leone in 2014.

She is alleged to have given dishonest answers to medical staff when she returned to Heathrow airport.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has been investigating Ms Cafferkey's conduct.

The charges against her had never been made public but were accidentally uploaded to the NMC website.

Ms Cafferkey said the NMC has since apologised.

The council alleges that she "allowed an incorrect temperature to be recorded" on 29 December 2014 and intended to conceal from Public Health England staff that she had a temperature higher than 38C.

Image copyright Scotsman
Image caption Ms Cafferkey contracted Ebola while working at a treatment centre in Sierra Leone two years ago

Registered NHS nurse Ms Cafferkey travelled to the West African country at the height of the Ebola crisis to help the sick.

She returned to London and then travelled on to Scotland before being diagnosed, and spent almost a month being treated in an isolation unit at London's Royal Free Hospital.

Ms Cafferkey recovered but was readmitted to hospital on two separate occasions after suffering complications linked to the disease, and at one stage fell critically ill.

'Normal life'

But she returned to work as a nurse at the Blantyre Health Centre in South Lanarkshire, where she had been employed before volunteering to go to Sierra Leone with the Save the Children charity.

She described at the time how she was "very happy to be alive" and was looking forward to returning to a "normal life".

However, in the months that followed her health suffered as she had issues with her thyroid, her hair fell out and she had headaches and pains in her joints.

But Ms Cafferkey stressed that she felt lucky because she had not lost her sight as others had done.

Image copyright Andrew Milligan
Image caption The nurse was flown from Glasgow Airport to London for treatment in an isolation unit.

In March of last year the NMC began investigating her conduct and she was summoned for a preliminary hearing in Edinburgh.

She was not told the charges against her at that time, but they were thought to centre on allegations that she was unwell before she began her journey and her symptoms were obscured.

The NMC has now released the full charges, which allege Ms Cafferkey did not tell Public Health England screening staff who took her temperature at the airport that she had recently taken paracetamol.

She is also said to have left the area without reporting her true temperature.

'Public interest'

A hearing on Ms Cafferkey's fitness to practise is set to take place in Edinburgh next month. The NMC has the power to strike workers off the professional register.

A spokesman for the NMC said it had been working closely with Ms Cafferkey and her representatives to reach an outcome "that is fair and meets the public interest".

He added: "Since the NMC's case examiners considered the allegations and drafted charges, we have received further evidence.

"The final charges the panel will consider will be determined in light of this new material. A process of ongoing review is part of our normal practice in all cases.

"Ms Cafferkey and her representatives have cooperated fully throughout this process. Currently we are working towards scheduling the case for a panel to consider on 13 September."

In a statement Pauline Cafferky said: "The NMC has apologised to me through my solicitor for the unfortunate mistake they made in uploading the allegations to their website in advance of the hearing next month.

"It's only then that the full facts now known to the NMC will be shared with the panel. Those facts, that have not yet been made public, will be considered by the panel as part of its review of all relevant information.

"I would very much hope that after the case has been considered by the panel the matter will be at an end.

"I have no further comment to make. "

More on this story