British nurse recovering from Ebola to return to Africa

Will Pooley: It is "something I need to do"

Updated: 
British nurse, Will Pooley, recovering from Ebola to return to Africa


British Ebola survivor Will Pooley is preparing to go back to west Africa to help deal with the epidemic because it is "something I need to do".

The volunteer nurse, from Eyke in Suffolk, said he knows that his family and friends will be worried but stressed that there was a urgent need for strong medical support as the virus has claimed almost 4,500 lives, mainly in west Africa. Words: PA

It has also been revealed that a second US health care worker has tested positive for the illness.

Mr Pooley, 29, made a special appearance at a training and discussion session in Whitehall for NHS workers who have volunteered to help on the ground with the international effort.

Mr Pooley said: "There is still a lot of work to do out there and I am in the same or better position than when I chose to go out before."

He said he is not particularly worried that he will be struck down by the illness again. He said: "It does not seem likely that I will contract it again but it will still be the same question in my mind as it was the first time. It was an easy decision at that time and it is the same now."

Ebola Survivor Heading Back to Sierra Leone

Of his friends and family who have already seen the trauma he went through after contracting the illness, he said: "They are always going to be worried. They are very supportive.

"I know my mum and dad are worried but they support me because they know this is something I have to do.

"My potential immunity is very reassuring for them, or at least it should be, and I will be returning in a more organised fashion than when I was out there originally."

Mr Pooley was flown back to the UK by the RAF on August 24 having contracted the virus while treating patients in Sierra Leone.

He was treated in a special isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital, where he was given the experimental drug ZMapp.

Mr Pooley, who said he has made a "100%" recovery, added: "I have some experience now of working with Ebola patients so I can apply that.

"My exposure, as with everyone's exposure, was an accident. It is something that everyone will be thinking about - all the volunteers who are here tonight but it is about vigilance really and being cautious. You must never let any complacency creep in."

Other British volunteers have been asking him what it is like to have Ebola and about his experience treating it.

He said: "That is the reason I am here - tonight is about giving them a bit of insight in to what work and life is like out there at the moment.

"I have just told them very candidly about my experience. I have perhaps talked about the symptoms I have experienced and my disease course. People are interested and people have a right to know about it if they are considering going out there."

Mr Pooley spoke to around 30 NHS workers who are thinking of going abroad to help with the Ebola crisis. They are among more than 600 NHS staff who have signed up since Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies issued a call to arms on September 19.

Survivor Will Pooley Hailed by Philip Hammond at Ebola Conference

An urgent call was made for medical practitioners, nursing staff, paramedics, pharmacists, psychologists, health information managers, logisticians and outreach managers to sign up.

The health department is not confirming exact numbers of volunteers being deployed to Sierra Leone, when they will be deployed or where they will go.

They will be working with the guidance of UK Med, an international organisation based at Manchester University which is responsible for assessing and looking after NHS volunteers to help tackle the Ebola epidemic.

The Whitehall briefing came as Prime Minister David Cameron pledged the Government "will do everything we can to keep this country safe" from the Ebola outbreak.

He also spoke to US president Barack Obama, as well German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Francois Hollande and Italian PM Matteo Renzi during a conference call this afternoon about international efforts to counter the virus.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Mr Cameron stressed there were no direct flights from the affected areas to this country, though screening processes beginning at Heathrow Airport were being rolled out.

All of the health workers who attended tonight's awareness session - aimed at giving them information, an insight into life and work in an Ebola zone and the chance to try on protective clothing - have previously been interviewed about potentially volunteering.

Tony Redmond, of UK Med, told them: "You are volunteers and we respect that. You can change your mind, if you are not happy. You do not have to explain why you want to change your mind and you can change your mind back again.

EBOLA SCREENING AT AIRPORTS: WHAT TO EXPECT

"We understand that it is difficult - you have your own decisions to make and you have family around you. You do not have to give us any reasons, you just have to tell us."

Dr Amy Hughes, who is running the training sessions, said they would be working in key areas alongside logistics, water sanitation and burial teams because "safe burial is crucial to try and reduce transmission".

She told the would-be volunteers: "It is an ever-evolving situation. For me, any deployment into a humanitarian context such as dealing with Ebola is about understanding the context, understanding the culture and understanding the anthropology.

"Understanding the health-seeking behaviour and community infrastructure is absolutely crucial to health delivery.

"Without having an insight in to that, we cannot deliver optimal care. Part of these evenings will be about trying to educate you further about the context and the kind of situation on the ground.

"There is a big demand for an international response and you form a big part of that. The projection is an increasing number of cases unless we have people on the ground and functioning units to help
workers provide that care."





Related stories

'I have Ebola!': Passenger removed from plane after 'joke'

Jetstar plane turns back over Ebola alert


Hospital Records Show About 70 Staffers Cared For Ebola Patient