Save the Children to investigate how British nurse contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone

The charity says it will review its procedures after Pauline Cafferkey was diagnosed with the disease

Save the Children
Save the Children

Save the Children has said it will carry out a special investigation into how the British nurse Pauline Cafferkey contracted the Ebola virus after working at the treatment centre run by the charity in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone. 

Rob MacGillivray, the charity’s Sierra Leone director, said the investigation would leave "no stone left unturned" in trying to find the source of the infection and would go beyond the charity’s routine reviews.

Cafferkey, from South Lanarkshire, returned to Glasgow from Sierra Leone a week ago, when she was diagnosed with the disease. She is being treated at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north-west London, where her condition is said to have deteriorated in the past few days.

"We’re conversantly reviewing our protocols and procedures to make sure that staff working in the Kerry Town area and outside take all measures possible to prevent themselves becoming infected with Ebola," said MacGillivray.

"Because of this very serious event, we have put in an extraordinary review to ensure that we do everything, leave no stone unturned, to be able to as far as possible identify the source of this infection."

MacGillivray said the investigation would look at how personal protective equipment is used, and at contact between people both inside and outside the Kerry Town treatment centre, where Cafferkey worked for three weeks.

He said that the charity was confident that its Ebola protocols were working, and would publish a summary of the results once the review was completed.

Save the Children said that health workers were given rigorous training before treating patients, but everyone working in Sierra Leone was exposed to a certain amount of risk.

Another British nurse, William Pooley, contracted and later recovered from Ebola last summer after volunteering in Sierra Leone for the Shepherd's Hospice in the capital, Freetown. Pooley was put in touch with the hospice by the UK Friends of the Shepherd's Hospice.

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