NHS staff head off on Ebola mission

Published: Saturday 22nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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The first NHS staff will depart for Sierra Leone today to join the fight against Ebola.

A group of around 30 including GPs, nurses, psychiatrists and emergency medicine consultants, will arrive in the the west African country’s capital Freetown early tomorrow morning.

They are the first wave of NHS volunteers to be deployed by the Government.

Following their arrival they will complete a week of training before moving to British-built Ebola treatment centres across the country.

They will then start work diagnosing and treating those who have contracted the virus, which has killed more than 5,000 people.

Donna Wood, senior sister at Haywood Hospital in Staffordshire, will be among those departing the UK today.

She said: “I’d been following the stories on the news so when I saw an email from the NHS highlighting the Ebola situation in Sierra Leone and calling for volunteers I felt I had act.

“I knew I could use the skills I’ve got to make a difference and join a team to help bring the disease under control.

“We’ve had gold standard training – second to none.

“We’re very lucky in this country to have the NHS, the staff and the skills – it’s just not the case everywhere else. My parents and the whole family are proud of my decision to go.”

More teams of volunteers are set to leave in the coming weeks after hundreds came forward to offer their services.

They have been preparing for deployment with intensive training at a Ministry of Defence facility in York.

Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies said: “I have been really impressed with the numbers of NHS workers who have stepped forward to help the communities that have been devastated by Ebola.

“The fact more than 1,000 have come forward so far is a real testament to their commitment to public service.

“I want to offer my thanks to all those that are going, their efforts will make a real difference in West Africa.”

Professor Tony Redmond, head of the charity UK Med, said: “The actions of these selfless volunteers in going and the actions of their colleagues and managers to release them and cover for their duties is testimony if ever there was to the altruism that lies at the core of the NHS. I am very proud of them all”.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said Britain’s response to the crisis was one of its biggest to a disease outbreak, with almost 1,000 military personnel, scientists, healthcare and aid workers already on the ground.

She added: “But to beat Ebola we desperately need the experience and dedication of skilled doctors and nurses to care for the thousands of sick and dying patients who are not receiving the treatment they need.

“Every one of these NHS heroes will play a vital role in the fight against Ebola. It is only because of their combined efforts that we stand a chance of defeating this disease.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said “I want to thank the brave NHS volunteers who are heading to Sierra Leone today to help in the fight against Ebola. They embody the values at the heart of our health service, and their expertise and dedication is second to none.”

Published: Saturday 22nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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