A nurse who survived Ebola would “never knowingly” put anyone’s life in danger and is relieved the disciplinary process is over after being cleared of misconduct over her return to the UK with the virus, her lawyer has said.
An independent panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in Edinburgh found three charges against Pauline Cafferkey were not proven and therefore her fitness to practise was “not impaired”.
The Scottish medical worker, 40, became infected with Ebola while working in Sierra Leone in 2014.
The NMC had alleged Ms Cafferkey allowed an incorrect temperature to be recorded during the screening process at Heathrow Airport towards the end of December that year and that she left a screening area without reporting her true temperature.
In reaching the decision, chairman Timothy Cole said “compelling and clear medical evidence” about Ms Cafferkey’s state of mind and ability to reason and make objective decisions at the time was central to the panel’s deliberations.
Speaking outside the hearing, Ms Cafferkey’s lawyer said she was “relieved the process is at an end” and that Ms Cafferkey would never knowingly place anyone in danger.
Solicitor Joyce Cullen said: “She willingly put her life at risk to travel to Sierra Leone to work as a volunteer helping to treat people suffering from Ebola.
“She and hundreds of other volunteers played a vital role in saving lives, helping to curb the epidemic in extremely challenging circumstances.
“As the panel heard, when Pauline and her fellow volunteers arrived at Heathrow they were faced with chaotic scenes.
“Public Health England were unprepared for the volume of people returning from countries affected by Ebola.
“There were also serious failures in communication amongst the Public Health England staff.
“It is perhaps ironic given the criticisms made of Public Health England’s processes it was their complaint which led to the NMC investigation and these proceedings being initiated against Pauline. No doubt lessons have been learned.
“Throughout her career Pauline has been motivated by a genuine desire to help other people even if this meant putting her own life at risk.
“She would never have knowingly put anyone in danger. Pauline was lucky to survive.
“She is delighted that the panel has made the decision she has no case to answer and is now able to continue her nursing career in Scotland.”
Ms Cafferkey was present at the session to hear the decision of the panel and appeared to smile as she left the hearing room.