Our thanks to Stu for this. It would be hard to imagine a worse example of women’s unprofessionalism, craven selfishness, lying, dereliction of duty, and in-group preferencing, regardless of the potential consequences for wider society. Unusually, I’ll comment on most of the piece.
The three women collectively put the lives of the British public at risk of outbreaks of Ebola, the highly contagious and swiftly lethal disease which killed so many in West Africa, and for which this country is wholly unprepared to handle.
The women’s offences – in reality, crimes – were compounded by wholly inadequate punishments. The doctor was suspended for one month, the senior nurse for two, while the nurse (who was carrying the Ebola virus, and showing a sign of it upon arrival from West Africa) received no punishment. The start of the piece:
A doctor who misled other medics about Pauline Cafferkey – a nurse who developed the Ebola virus – has been suspended from practising for a month.
Dr Hannah Ryan took Ms Cafferkey’s temperature at Heathrow Airport on returning from West Africa where they had volunteered to help.
But despite a high temperature – a warning sign of the virus – Dr Ryan agreed to a lower value being recorded.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal said she was guilty of serious misconduct.
Dr Ryan said she was in a state of “disbelief, fear and panic” at the time.
Ms Cafferkey was then allowed to travel home to Scotland, carrying the virus and putting others at “unwarranted risk” the tribunal heard. [Many fellow passengers could have caught the highly infectious virus, starting outbreaks across Scotland.]
The Scottish nurse fell ill the next day and survived a long period of illness with Ebola and its complications.
Returning on 28 December, Dr Ryan and Ms Cafferkey had landed at Heathrow, “keen” to be home for the Christmas holiday period, the tribunal heard.
They queued to get clearance from Public Health England medics to be allowed to leave.
Trying to help PHE staff with the process, Dr Ryan and Ms Cafferkey agreed to take and record their own temperatures. [This is outrageous. It invited people to lie, for personal convenience. The PHE staff who agreed to this should be disciplined, but they won’t be.]
Dr Ryan had then taken Ms Cafferkey’s temperature and got a reading of 38.2C – higher than normal.
But a lower temperature, 37.2C, was actually recorded and Ms Cafferkey was then allowed to catch her connecting flight to Glasgow to go home.
And later when a consultant rang to investigate what had happened at the airport, Dr Ryan gave a “dishonest” response about her involvement, the tribunal was told.
The tribunal ruled that while there were “extenuating circumstances” for her actions at Heathrow, [or was there just an explanation for her dereliction of duty, not ‘extenuating circumstances’?] her behaviour five days later when she took the call, was “deeply deplorable”.
Dr Ryan told the hearing: “Pauline Cafferkey was my friend and someone I cared about and was really worried she might die.” [The obvious thing, then, was to let her board a plane, rather than be detained for observation and possible treatment. Give me strength.]
Dr Bernard Herdan, chairman of the tribunal, said: “Since the tribunal is satisfied the risk of repetition of your misconduct is low, and there 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.” [‘Sufficient to mark the seriousness of your misconduct?’ This is what happens when the medical profession polices itself. The public can go to hell. Herdan should be disciplined for these appalling remarks.]
In September 2016, the Nursing and Midwifery Council cleared Ms Cafferkey of misconduct over claims she had hidden her infection, after a panel ruled that her judgement had been impaired by her illness. [Her temperature was raised by one degree Centigrade. Another woman not being held accountable for her dangerous wrongdoing, as if she were a young child.]
In November, another colleague, senior nurse Donna Wood, was suspended by the NMC for two months. The panel found Ms Wood suggested a lower temperature be recorded on Ms Cafferkey’s screening form so they could pass through checks at passport control more quickly. [What was the point of the checks, if not to intercept cases such as Cafferkey’s?]
All three women should have been fired, and charged with putting the lives of the public at risk. All three should be in prison today. Had they been men, I expect they would be.
The BBC piece carries the headline, “Medic suspended for ‘dishonesty’ over Ebola temperature”. Why the speech marks around ‘dishonesty’? The dishonest was never in doubt.
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