Richard Booth QC, instructed by Kirsty Jeeves of the Medical Defence Union, represented Dr Hannah Ryan in disciplinary proceedings brought by the General Medical Council before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS). The hearing, which attracted considerable media coverage, ran for 9 days and concluded on 30th March.
In late 2014 Dr Ryan, a young doctor with a desire to specialise in tropical medicine and infectious diseases, selflessly volunteered to travel out to Sierra Leone to help to treat those suffering from Ebola, as a member of the first such UK team supported by the Department for International Development. While in Sierra Leone, in the most horrific and trying circumstances, Dr Ryan conducted herself with great courage and dedication, earning the respect of her fellow team members, most of whom were far more senior than her. She formed close bonds of friendship with her fellow volunteers, including Pauline Cafferkey.
On Sunday 28th December 2014, after a journey lasting over 24 hours in total, the volunteers returned to Heathrow Terminal 4 and encountered the relative chaos of the Public Health England (PHE) Ebola Screening Area. PHE had apparently not been prepared for the return of so many healthcare workers from Sierra Leone. Some of the healthcare workers were permitted to take each other’s temperatures. This should not have happened. Although Dr Ryan neither suggested that Pauline Cafferkey’s temperature be recorded incorrectly nor recorded that temperature, these circumstances led to a chain of events which resulted in PHE referring Dr Ryan to the GMC.
Dr Ryan faced allegations of dishonesty and misleading conduct. She made some admissions at the outset of the hearing, but denied dishonesty. No finding of dishonesty was made in relation to the events of 28.12.14, but a finding was made in relation to incomplete disclosure during a telephone call on 02.01.15 (remedied that same day) when Dr Ryan was extremely worried about Pauline Cafferkey who was by that time critically ill. Misconduct and impairment were found, but, as a result of the powerful mitigating circumstances and Dr Ryan’s outstanding testimonials, the sanction was a suspension of only one month.
Richard Booth QC said:
“It was a privilege to represent Dr Hannah Ryan before the MPTS. Dr Ryan is an outstanding and selfless young doctor who has put herself at risk to help those most in need. The testimonials in support of her were the most impressive that I have ever encountered. I look forward to hearing of Dr Ryan’s achievements in tropical medicine and infectious diseases in the future.“