'It's been difficult to move on' - Doctor reflects on Salisbury nerve agent attack 5 years on

  • Watch ITV Meridian's Richard Slee's report from Salisbury

A doctor who was working at Salisbury District Hospital when two people were poisoned with a deadly nerve agent, has spoken of how hard it has been to move on, on the five-year anniversary of the attack.

Dr Kate Jenkins is a consultant psychologist at Salisbury District Hospital.

She was working with her colleagues in the intensive care unit when Sergei and Yulia Scripal were poisoned by the nerve agency Novichok.

The former spy, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter were found collapsed on a bench near the Maltings.

They were taken to hospital for a suspected drug overdose, but it was soon established they would need to receive treatment for a nerve agent called Novichok.

It's believed the nerve agent had been applied to the door handle of Sergei's home on Christie Miller Road.

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia Credit: ITV Meridian

Reflecting on the days following the attack, Dr Jenkins said: "Everyone was trying to adapt to what was becoming an extraordinary situation, but also trying to get with the day job as well.

"We had an intensive care unit full of patients

"There was panic around them surviving and whether someone would try and come back to finish them off - that was a big fear.

"There were armed police officers on the unit so we would have to give over our phones every time we went into the unit.

"There was press in the corridors and in the car parks offering staff money to take photographs on their phones. It was absolutely extraordinary and like nothing anyone had ever seen.

"It's been very difficult to move on from."

  • Dr Kate Jenkins said the attack also had an impact on hospital workers' families

Wiltshire Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was also thought to have come into contact with the poison when he searched the Scripal's home.

He also received treatment at Salisbury District Hospital.

Then in July 2018, Dawn Sturgess from Amesbury died after she and her partner, Charlie Rowley, had also been exposed to the nerve agent.

Police believed that the 44-year-old and her partner Charlie, 45, handled a container which contained the deadly chemical.

Dawn Sturgess (right) from Amesbury died after she and her partner, Charlie Rowley (left) were exposed to the nerve agent Credit: ITV Meridian

Dr Jenkins says the second incident was just as terrifying, but also tragic.

She said: "I think we have learnt a huge amount in Salisbury from dealing with it.

"At the time it was the longest-running incident in NHS history, and we were working in level 3 PPE.

"The nursing staff were working in very similar circumstances they had to face during the pandemic.

"Fears of contaminating your family, and fear from your family saying 'I don't want you to go to work, I don't think you're safe.' Or if you are going to work, I don't want you coming back and hugging our children.

"It was very similar to the pandemic and we learnt a lot about how to cope and psychologically we learnt an awful lot after the Novichok incident about how we could have supported staff better.

"We put all of that into place over the pandemic and I think it has paid off."