20th September 2016

Live Health News  |  Weather  |  Archive 

Matthew Syed - author of 'Black Box Thinking'
In conversation with Roy Lilley
25th October 2016 - King's Fund - tickets here.
A hug 
News and Comment from Roy Lilley
I've never met Pauline Cafferty.  I just know her as 'The Ebola Nurse'.
She went to Sierra Leone in 2014 to help with the crisis.  She became the pin-up girl for the whole story because despite all the spacesuits and plastic tents and hosing down, she somehow contracted the deadly disease and nearly died.
It took three trips to hospital and some very clever doctoring and nursing to save her.  I think it was the tale of a heroine.
I'd like to meet her.  I'd like to give her a hug.  The sort of hug that says if you were my daughter or granddaughter, I'd be so proud of you and thank you ... and here's another hug.
This delightful young woman has gone from a bright girl with chestnut hair falling around her shoulders to a harrowed, hollowed out version of her former self.  She looks haunted.  I think she probably is.
She is just getting over being dragged through a disciplinary hearing at the Nursing and Midwifery Council; accused of fiddling her temperature at a reception centre, on her way home to Glasgow.
Why would she do that?  She is a nurse and would know an elevated temperature is one of the early signs of Ebola and what its consequences could be.  The last thing she would want to do is to pretend she was not ill. 
As it turns out she was ill.  Very ill and her elevated temperature was wrongly recorded, or concealed, or falsified, fiddled, missed, mistaken... I have no idea.
What has emerged is that she was very nearly mortally ill.  The NMC panel ruled she was in a "diminished medical state" and merely "swept along by events". It found no attempt to mislead PHE doctors.

What does this mean?  It implies the PHE officials were misled but not deliberately.  Who misled them and how and why?  Letting The Ebola Nurse slip through the checks nearly killed her and could have put hundreds at risk.
I understand the decision to 'prosecute' The Ebola Nurse was made by Public Health England.  Bear in mind they were responsible for checking temperatures at the reception centre and you can see where this is going...
Whilst I have never met 'The Ebola Nurse', I have met the boss of Public Health England.  He is thoughtful, very compassionate, well read and more like a uni-prof than a CEO.  Duncan Selby.  NHS through and through.
He knows that I think PHE is too big and needs to be broken up.  They do everything from pork sausages to Porton Down. Nevertheless he was kind enough to spend an evening with me, in conversation, at one of our Health Chat events.  Everyone loved Duncan!
He was good humoured, considerate, empathetic and the last person on earth I would have thought would have wanted to give 'The Ebola Nurse' a good kicking.
Professor Paul Cosford, Director of Health Protection and Medical Director at PHE, said:
"There is an agreed version of facts between the NMC and Pauline Cafferkey and her representatives and this description goes beyond these.... we have nothing further to add."
What does this mean?  Can it be translated into English?
  • Can it mean; PHE think 'The Ebola Nurse' is a liar?
  • Can it mean; we've discovered we made a Horlix of this but can't fess-up.
  • Can it mean; I have no idea what's going on.
  • Can it mean; I'm saying what the lawyers have told me to say.
  • Can it mean; I'm trying to get a job in a fudge factory.
  • Can it mean; I wish I was on holiday.
I don't know what it means.  The Ebola Nurse says;
"I've no idea if any of the PHE workers faced an internal investigation, but I hope they did because they deserve to."
Ouch!  What does this mean?
  • Can it mean; the PHE people are liars.
  • Can it mean; the PHE people are incompetent.
  • Can it mean; the PHE people failed in some way.
The Ebola Nurse says;
"I was made a scapegoat for a catalogue of errors. PHE were entirely responsible. They, not me, put public lives at risk by allowing me to fly before they had an opinion from an infectious diseases official."
Duncan Selby has some explaining to do:
  • Why did he decide to prosecute The Ebola Nurse?  
  • Was he badly advised?  
  • He runs a big organisation, is it too big?
  • Is he covering something up?
  • Did he take his eye off the ball?
  • Did he decide he didn't want to win the NMC case because striking The Ebola Nurse off the NMC register would be like saying Mary Poppins was a shoplifter.   
I think we are entitled to a better and more understandable conclusion.
Two very nice people at war.  

It should end in a hug.
  Contact Roy - please use this e-address
Know something I don't - email me in confidence.
Leaving the NHS, changing jobs - you don't have to say goodbye to us! You can update your Email Address from the link you'll find right at the bottom of the page, and we'll keep mailing.
MaM Logo
 ' N
ext time you are on the bus, look at the legs...
The Academy of Fabulous NHS Stuff 

Box clever, find the good stuff here...
Doin' some good stuff?
Dealing With Difficult People

This best seller is in its third edition!
Essential holiday reading!
Follow us on Twitter
Please share your good stuff!
News and Stuff
News boy
Listen to today's eLetter
Matthew Syed
Former Commonwealth Table Tennis Champion and author of Black Box Thinking

25th October
King's Fund
This is what I'm hearing;
if you know different,
tell me here
>>  I'm hearing - NMC has sent out letters to all nurses with lapsed registrations to see if they want to come back to nursing.  Fingers crossed it works!
>>  I'm hearing - Tim Smart chair at the troubled Southern Health has quit as chairman.
Dr Rodney Jones 
New Analysis
The Elephant in the Room and rising Emergency Admissions 
The wider use of the Care Record
Dr John Parry says we've got it all wrong.
Need inspiration, a good idea or solve a problem
Writes exclusively for us
Swedish Warships and NHS Waiting Times.
Ooooh you'll like this.