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”
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.
- Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey’s condition improves
- Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey’s condition now ‘critical’
- UK nurse re-admitted with ‘late complication’ of ebola
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.
Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey speaks of anguish over NMC case
“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.