Doctor who lied about Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey suspended

A doctor who lied about the high temperature of Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey has been suspended from practising for a month by medical watchdogs.

A wrong temperature for nurse Pauline Cafferkey was recorded. Picture: PA
A wrong temperature for nurse Pauline Cafferkey was recorded. Picture: PA

Dr Hannah Ryan, 31, took the temperature of Scottish nurse Ms Cafferkey as they waited to go through Ebola virus screening at Heathrow airport, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) heard.

It revealed the nurse had a high temperature of 38.2C – a warning sign of Ebola, the deadly disease which killed thousands in west Africa, from where the medical team were returning in December 2014 having volunteered to help fight the outbreak.

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But instead of raising the alarm, Dr Ryan in a state of “panic” agreed a lower temperature of 37.2C was to be recorded on a screening form, and Ms Cafferkey was allowed to travel home to Scotland carrying the “highly contagious” virus and putting others at “unwarranted risk”.

She fell critically ill the next day, but survived.

All the medics were exhausted from their work and travel and desperate to get out of the airport and home to loved ones for Christmas, the hearing was told.

Dr Ryan admitted misleading other medics with the lower temperature being put on the form handed to the doctors screening at Heathrow.

While there were “extenuating circumstances” for her actions at Heathrow, her behaviour five days later was “deeply deplorable” the tribunal ruled.

When a consultant rang to investigate what had happened at the airport she gave a “dishonest” response to conceal her involvement.

Dr Ryan was described as an “exceptional young doctor” who had volunteered to work in “horrendous” conditions to help the sick and dying, and had made a “one-off” mistake under extreme fatigue and pressure.

She told the hearing: “Pauline Cafferkey was my friend and someone I cared about and I was really worried she might die.”

Dr Ryan, who works at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, admitted wrongdoing but denied her fitness to practise was impaired, but was found guilty of serious misconduct after an ninth-day hearing at the MPTS sitting in Manchester.

Yesterday Dr Bernard Herdan, chair of the tribunal, said: “Since the tribunal is satisfied the risk of repetition of your misconduct is low, and their is no risk to patient safety, it has concluded that a one-month suspension will be sufficient to mark the seriousness of your misconduct and to send a message to the profession that dishonesty by a doctor cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.”