MEDICS BEHIND THE MASK
Meet the NHS nurses and doctors helping to beat Ebola in Sierra Leone
"I've always been a caring person –
that’s what my mother said.
So it always felt like
nursing was my vocation.
It always will be"
Senior Sister Donna Wood has been nursing for 29 years.
She's one of a thousand medics from across the National Health Service who have volunteered to join Britain's fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone.
"I'd been following the stories on the news and I felt I had to do this straight away: I could use the skills I’ve got to make a difference and join a team to help bring the disease under control."
The medics - who include GPs, nurses, clinicians, psychiatrists and consultants in emergency medicine - will work on testing, diagnosing and treating people who have contracted the deadly virus.
"I'm feeling very prepared. We’ve had gold standard training – second to none. Now I just want to get out there and use my skills. You don’t think of it as being heroic. It’s just what we do."
Donna joins the first group of 30 NHS volunteers to head out.
They spent 9 days training at an Army medical centre, near York, before departing for the West African country on 22 November.
The facility is a replica of a Sierra Leone Ebola treatment centre - with temperatures to match: heated to 30°C to simulate conditions in the field.
They will work in British-built treatment centres across the country, which - when full - will triple Sierra Leone's bed capacity.
"Since starting work as a doctor,
I've always wanted to do
something to volunteer,
to help my country"
Mohamed Koker is an emergency doctor at Lewisham Hospital.
He was born in Sierra Leone and now works for the NHS in London.
"Since starting work as a doctor, I've always wanted to do something to volunteer, to help my country whenever I go there on holiday."
He has a particular focus on infectious diseases, and also hopes to bring back new skills to help teach his colleagues.
"I want to be able to contribute the little I can as well as learn something. I want to return safely, so I can share the experience with others."
SUITS TO KEEP
"It's a complete privilege
to look after people,
to help them and their relatives
to get through difficult times"
Dr Roger Alcock is a consultant in emergency and paediatric medicine.
He works at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital, Larbert, in Scotland - but this is not the first time he's volunteered to help abroad:
"I've previously worked at a Scottish government initiative in Malawi, helping to develop emergency medicine at the hospital in Blantyre."
Like all the medics heading to Sierra Leone, he is committed to his profession and the cause:
"My father was a doctor and did his utmost to encourage me to consider other options, but the bottom line is that I'm quite a people-person and it's a complete privilege to get to look after them."
The UK has committed a £427 million package of support to help contain, control, treat and ultimately defeat Ebola in Sierra Leone.
To find out more about DFID's work, go to www.gov.uk/dfid.
Pictures and story: Simon Davis
Graphics and video: Ricci Coughlan