Yorkshire NHS volunteers join the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone

Dr Heatley trained with the Ministry of Defence
Dr Heatley trained with the Ministry of Defence

Five NHS volunteers from Yorkshire have joined Britain’s fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone.

The volunteers departed today (Saturday), alongside more than 30 others from around the country, all deployed by the UK Government.

William Clucas, Gareth Ross, Lizzie Marmont, all of Leeds, Dr John Wright, Bradford and Dr Charles Heatley, Sheffield, will arrive in the capital, Freetown, tomorrow morning and will complete a week of training before moving to British-built treatment centres across Sierra Leone.

Following the training the group, which includes, GPs, nurses, clinicians, consultants and psychiatrists, will begin work setting up procedures and diagnosing and treating people who have caught the deadly disease.

Dr Charles Heatley, a GP, said: “I feel as confident about going out as anyone could expect to be. The training has been first class, we all feel we can protect ourselves from infection with Ebola as along as we follow the instructions received. We have also had training to prepare ourselves emotionally, and the feeling in the group is very positive, and very strong.

“We feel compelled to do this. The sense of urgency has been made clear by WHO, the US and UK governments and the NGOs, amplified by the information we have received from experts at the course.

“My approach is that this is a secondment, not a voluntary placement. If we can support more patients through their illness we will have made a step towards bringing the epidemic under control more quickly.”

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.”

The volunteers received nine days of intensive training at a specialist Ministry of Defence unit in York which included operating a replica treatment centre with members of the Armed Forces training them with how to handle different stages of treatment and assessment of the disease.

The deployment of the volunteers is part of a wider effort in the UK to control, contain and defeat the deadly disease and the UK has committed £230 million to the response efforts in Sierra Leone.