Search

Hampstead becomes UK’s ‘front line’ of defence against Ebola outbreak

13:00 07 August 2014

'We're well equipped to deal with any Ebola infection' say Olly Carpeter and consultant Dr Stephen Mepham in the Royal Free's infectious disease unit. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Hampstead has become a front line of defence against the potential spread of Ebola – with the Royal Free Hospital having the country’s only two beds fully equipped to deal with infections.

The hospital in Pond Street has the UK’s only fully operational unit of its kind to prevent the spread of the highly infectious disease, after NHS England admitted beds at a secondary unit in Newcastle “were not yet ready”.

Doctors at the Royal Free’s Infectious Diseases Unit said the risk to the UK remained small but said plans to transform other parts of the hospital into isolation wards had been made should more than two infected patients arrive for treatment.

Dr Stephen Mepham, one of the unit’s infectious diseases consultants, said: “This is an unprecedented outbreak and the biggest the world has had to deal with.

“Normally outbreaks would have petered out by now [but] west African countries have a lack of resources to properly deal with the disease. We have beds to treat two patients and should there be more infections we would create an overspill ward.

“You could make a whole ward dedicated to treating Ebola, but I think that would be overkill. We’ve never had Ebola here. There’s obviously a balance to be struck.

“But residents in the UK shouldn’t be concerned. We’re well equipped to deal with any Ebola infection.”

Two infected American aid workers were flown to the US from Liberia this week to be treated in secure units similar to those at the Royal Free.

They are two of 1,300 thought to be infected. The illness has a 50 to 90 per cent mortality rate, no known cure and has killed almost 900 in this outbreak.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned its spread “is moving faster than our efforts to control it”.

Should a UK national be infected with Ebola while abroad, they may be transported by the RAF and taken to Hampstead for treatment at the Royal Free.

A “less used” area of the hospital would then be shut down, Dr Mepham said, as the patient is transported to a ward where there are two beds surrounded by isolator tents, air pressure units and full body suits.

While concerns have been raised over the lack of training given to border staff to spot signs of infected travellers, no cases of Ebola have ever been reported in the UK. The country’s record of dealing with the threat from infectious diseases in the past has been praised.

But attention has been focused in recent weeks on the perceived failure of global health policies.

Dr Mepham added: “It is perhaps an indictment on the international community that the countries in West Africa haven’t had the resources to properly deal with the crisis.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

10:26
Peter Holboll pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility last year

Camden’s mental health service cancelled its search for a hospital bed for a paranoid schizophrenic who then went on to kill his mother, a court has heard.

11:06
Boris Johnson.

A spokesman for Boris Johnson has confirmed the Mayor of London’s decision to save the much-loved number 13 bus service was the result of a “cross-party campaign” to protect it, rather than a direct appeal from Conservative parliamentary candidate Mike Freer.

Yesterday, 18:36
A driver hit three pedestrians on the A400 Hampstead Road near Mornington Crescent (Pic: Tfl Traffic News)

The A400 Hampstead Road is closed both ways between Mornington Crescent and Robert Street in north London after a crash which saw four people hospitalised including a mother, a child and a teenager.

Yesterday, 18:30
Golders Green publisher Adele Ward. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Publisher Adele Ward is standing for the Green Party next month in her first-ever general election contest.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

The latest North London property news and features straight into your inbox.

Other Emails:
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Glen Moray whiskey could be winging its way to you.

The Glen Moray Classic is a classic Speyside single malt and forms the starting point for the Classic Range.

Seasons 1-4 on Blu-ray, as well as a shiny new Sony Blu-ray player could be coming your way!

To celebrate the fifth series of George RR Martin and HBO’s epic fantasy Game of Thrones, Ladbrokes is giving away a series one to four Blu-ray box set along with a Sony Blu-ray player to one lucky winner!

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder