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Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey speaks of 'anguish' over NMC case


Pauline Cafferkey, the UK nurse who almost died from ebola, has spoken out for the first time of her anguish after being accused of misconduct following her return to the UK with the virus.

Ms Cafferkey said she was upset to still be facing investigation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council more than 18 months after she returned to the UK from Africa.

“It’s very stressful. It would be nice to have closure”

Pauline Cafferkey

As widely reported, the Scottish nurse contracted ebola while working in a hospital in Sierra Leone at the height of the outbreak. She flew back to Heathrow in December 2014 with a high temperature.

Public Health England staff, in charge of screening for the virus at the airport, took Ms Cafferkey’s temperature before allowing her to board a connecting flight to Glasgow.

However, Ms Cafferkey subsequently became critically ill and had to return to London for life-saving treatment at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.

She was told after leaving hospital that she was under investigation by the nursing regulator due to concerns from PHE, which have never been disclosed.

“The report on how they are dealing with my case is still ongoing,” Ms Cafferkey told the Telegraph in an interview. “I don’t know why it has not been finished. It’s very stressful. It would be nice to have closure.”

She added: “My lawyer just says I can’t speak about it. I am unable to discuss the investigation whilst it is ongoing and I am looking forward to its conclusion.”

As previously reported by Nursing Times, Ms Cafferkey has experienced several relapses since spending five weeks working in Sierra Leone.

She is currently working but cannot return to her old job of home visits as a community nurse because she is barred from driving because of seizures caused by meningitis triggered by the virus.

“I was in a pretty bad way. I am really happy with how I am now. I couldn’t walk, I was in a wheelchair,” she said.

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey speaks of anguish over NMC case

Pauline Cafferkey

“Now I am just a bit weak. My joints ache, things like that. I feel like I am having my whole life back,” she added.

Ms Cafferkey told the Telegraph she would like to return to Sierra Leone when she regained full fitness. “I just want to do something positive for the children,” she said.

An NMC spokesman said: “We can confirm that the NMC case regarding allegations of misconduct against Pauline Cafferkey is ongoing.

“We are working closely with Ms Cafferkey and her representatives to ensure that we reach a resolution as quickly as possible that meets the public interest,” he said. “As the case is ongoing, we are not able to comment further.”

Ms Cafferkey spoke to the newspaper to highlight the work of Street Child, a charity that is trying to raise £20,000 for children affected by ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia.


Readers' comments (29)

  • Unbelievable.

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  • Pauline you are an inspiration and I hope the case with NMC gets resolved soon. Best wishes from Sheila.

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  • The NMC screeners should have thrown this out from the start and told PHE they are out of order in trying to deflect their organisational failings . I believe it is not just Ms Cafferkey under investigation bythe regulators but nurse and doctor colleagues too.
    The NMC is out of control and has been hijacked by lawyers . It is time Nurses and Midwives took back control and for Council members to step up instead if feathering their career nests .

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  • NMC. Unfit for purpose.

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  • Oh my goodness I have just read this...I am speechless and agree with the comment above that there will be 'failings' with PHE but we are dealing with a devastating virus here it has been on the planet a long time it will outwit us we need to learn and move on. Health care professionals from the UK put their lives on the line to go help their fellow man, because that is the kind of people they are, the NMC are really not fit for purpose are they...I have it in my head somewhere that a Nurse blew the whistle on bad practice and used hidden camera evidence (to prove patients were being ill treated) and instead of being commended for feeling so strongly they decided to investigate her for confidentiality issues.
    The Winterbourne scandal had to have an undercover reporter bring that out into the open, despite a Nurse expressing concerns, I bet if the Nurse had gone 'under cover' the NMC would have reacted in the same way. They are an absolute disgrace.

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  • I cannot believe this NO WONDER Girls dont want to go into NURSING!!! DISSGUSTING!!

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  • I have nothing but admiration for people like Pauline who put their lives on the line in compassion for helpless people. I have learned that you cannot run a business on Terms and Conditions, and neither can you run a healthcare organisation on them. Somebody with some of Pauline's compassion and a modicum of common sense should take charge of this and get it resolved in a human way. It's like people hounding our brave soldiers for their actions under fire and in mortal danger. Armchairs are very comfortable things but they don't achieve anything.
    Ambrose Kingston, Nojerm Ltd. ( Infection Control )

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  • michael stone

    So far as I understand this, we simply do not know exactly what 'the accusation' is. It might, or might not, be a valid issue.

    As for the NMC being full of lawyers and not nurses - the NMC is there is protect the public, so it should not adopt 'a nursing perspective': it is supposed to adopt a 'public protection' perspective.

    As for 'the NMC is somewhere between not very good and downright useless, and needs reforming' - well, speaking from a very limited knowledge base (I did exchange a few e-mails with the NMC about 2009 - I found them completely 'tick-box' and entirely devoid of 'any 'common sense''), that I tend to agree with. See Anonymous 7 August, 2016 10:11 am.

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  • M. Stone, please let us know when you are taking a holiday so the professionals can have their comments sections back. Thank you.

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  • As much as I (often) disagree with Mr. Stone, he is correct on this occasion. We cannot assume that because someone has put their life on the line, they have not done something which merits investigation. As far as the NMC is concerned, I agree with previous comments that it is unfit for purpose. Mr. Stone correctly asserts that it is there to protect the public, however I and many others would like to know why it is nurses who must pay for that privilege in order to be able to practice. It should surely be funded by government if the aim is to ensure public safety.

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