Cafferkey nurse faces sanction for concealing temperature

A nurse faces being suspended or struck off for concealing the fact that medic Pauline Cafferkey had a raised temperature before she tested positive for Ebola.

Donna Wood, a nurse who helped fight Ebola, faces being struck off over accusations that she recorded an inaccurate temperature on an airport screening form. Picture: Simon Davis/DFID/PA Wire

The raised temperature, noted in December 2014, should have triggered concern about infection of the deadly virus but Donna Wood suggested that a lower temperature be recorded on Ms Cafferkey’s screening form, a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) panel found.

The panel, sitting in Stratford, east London, ruled that Ms Wood’s fitness to practice has been impaired as all three misconduct charges against her were found proven.

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Ms Wood and Ms Cafferkey, who were volunteer nurses returning from Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone, were heading through passport control at Heathrow airport when then their group was pulled aside for screening.

Pauline Cafferkey. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire

The panel found that Ms Wood was aware that Ms Cafferkey’s temperature, which had been measured twice at 38.2C and 38.3C (101F), was above the nationally-set threshold, but suggested that a lower temperature of 37.2C (99F) be recorded on her screening form so the group could leave the “uncomfortable” and “chaotic” area more quickly.

A temperature above 37.5C (100F) required further assessment by doctors at the Public Health England (PHE) screening room.

Ms Wood’s lawyer Ben Rich told the hearing that these had been “exceptional” circumstances concerning someone who had a 30-year unblemished record.

Najrul Khasru, chairman of the panel, said it had fully accepted that Ms Wood’s desire to get out of the area quickly was the “primary motivation” of her dishonesty.

Pauline Cafferkey. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire

The panel will announce a decision on sanctions, which could include suspension or being struck off, on Friday.