Pauline Cafferkey disciplinary panel drops 'dishonesty' charge

Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey has appeared at a disciplinary hearing facing allegations that she did not disclose her true temperature when returning to the UK.

The Scottish medical worker, who was infected with Ebola while working in Sierra Leone in December 2014, is accused of allowing an incorrect temperature to be recorded at Heathrow Airport.

Cafferkey, 40, attended the Nursery and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing in Edinburgh on Tuesday, and more details of the charges she faces have been revealed.

  • Video report by ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

She had originally faced four charges, but the NMC urged for one charge of "dishonesty" to be withdrawn, and the panel agreed on the basis of medical evidence.

The other charges are that she:

  • "Allowed an incorrect temperature to be recorded on the PHE screening form"

  • Left the screening area without reporting her true temperature

  • Did not disclose that she'd recently taken paracetamol (which would lower her temperature)

The NMC has the power to strike workers off the professional register.

Pauline Cafferkey is transported to an RAF Hercules aircraft at Glasgow Airport before she is flown to London for treatment. Credit: PA Wire

In a Agreed Statement of Facts, the hearing heard how Cafferkey travelled to Sierra Leone at the height of the Ebola crisis to help treat infected patients, and went through a screening process upon her return to London.

The screening process for people returning from Sierra Leone was chaotic and unprepared to deal with the number of people coming through.

When it came to Cafferkey having her temperature recorded, her group offered to take their own temperatures, with Cafferkey recording at 38.2 and then 38.3 degrees.

It is agreed that a doctor in Cafferkey's group took the temperature, but another nurse in the group said they would record it as 37.2 degrees on the screening form and they would "get out of here and sort it out."

Cafferkey took paracetamol around the time she realised her temperature was high. The doctor who took it flagged it up to another doctor, and when she was later checked her temp was back to normal.

The NMC say she was not necessarily dishonest at the screening, because she would have had impaired judgement due to ill health and fatigue.