A doctor accused of misleading other medical staff before Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey was struck down with the Ebola virus is “amazing”, a colleague told a tribunal.
Dr Hannah Ryan was one of the first UK medics to travel to Sierra Leone with Ms Cafferkey and other volunteers to undertake dangerous work helping treat victims of the deadly outbreak that killed thousands of people in West Africa in 2014.
Another volunteer, Dr Sharon Irvine, told the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service: “Hannah is amazing. She’s one of the best doctors I have worked with ever.”
But the tribunal has heard when they returned to the UK, Dr Ryan took Ms Cafferkey’s temperature while she was being screened for possible Ebola infection and “acquiesced” in not reporting a raised temperature, which is indicative of infection.
Ms Cafferkey was allowed to leave Heathrow Airport but fell seriously ill the next day.
Dr Ryan admits misleading medics from Public Health England (PHE) doing the screening but denies misconduct at the hearing in Manchester.
All the medics had worked in “horrendous” conditions, the tribunal heard, having to wear face masks and heavy, head-to-toe protective clothing in searing heat, working in pairs in case of fainting, while treating women, children and men dying from the virus.
When they got back to the UK on 28 December, 2014 after two months away they were “keen” to get back home to loved ones. But the PHE screening process at Heathrow Airport to ensure no-one brought the virus back to the UK was “shambolic”, with queues building up in the “crowded, noisy and chaotic” quarantined area, the hearing was told.
Dr Ryan took Ms Cafferkey’s temperature as 38.2C – above the 37.5C threshold which is a warning sign for Ebola infection.
Dr Ryan was in a state of “disbelief, fear and panic” at the raised reading and instead of alerting the PHE medics at Heathrow a lower temperature of 37.2C was given.
Dr Ryan denies writing the 37.2C temperature for Ms Cafferkey on the form which was handed to PHE screening staff at Heathrow. Instead, she admits that she “acquiesced” in the wrong temperature being given.
Ms Cafferkey was due to give evidence as a witness yesterday but the tribunal accepted a written statement from her instead, which was not read out at the hearing and was not released to the press.
Dr Ryan’s tribunal continues.