Brave nurse Katie Pritchard will spend Christmas treating Ebola sufferers in Sierra Leone

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A nurse has put Christmas festivities on hold to fly to Africa to treat people affected by the deadly Ebola virus.

Katie Pritchard, who works at Pinderfields Hospital, has flown to Sierra Leone in West Africa as part of an international effort to tackle the outbreak.

She is one of 17 army reservists deployed to the country to treat healthcare workers suffering from Ebola.

Corporal Pritchard, who works in intensive care, said: “As a nurse you don’t necessarily get to spend Christmas with your family anyway, but it will be the first year abroad for me so it will be strange.

“But we’ve agreed that when I’m back we will celebrate Christmas then.”

Corporal Pritchard, 25, has taken part in intensive medical training at Strensall Barracks near York to prepare her for the mission.

She will work at a 12-bed unit which treats healthcare workers who have contracted Ebola to ensure they have the best possible chance of surviving.

She said: “Now we’ve had the training we all want to get on with it, get out there and get into a routine. “

Corp Pritchard is a member of 306 Hospital Support Medical
Regiment and will take over from clinicians at 22 Field Hospital in Sierra Leone.

She will spend Christmas working gruelling eight-hour shifts in sweltering heat, wearing heavy protective equipment.

Major Mari Roden, army clinical exercise planner, said: “When they are working in their civilian jobs in the NHS these medics are used to always putting the patient first.

“They have had to learn that they must look after themselves first.

Corp Pritchard added: “Because we have to wear all this equipment I’m sure it could be quite scary for the patients and their families. But you can still smile with your eyes and they know you are there to help.”

More than 7,500 people have died from Ebola in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the US and Mali in the latest outbreak of the virus.

The total number of reported cases is more than 19,340, but difficulties collecting data mean that could be an underestimate.

David Melia, director of engagement at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, said: “We absolutely offer our full support to Katie, who we know takes her work of caring for patients so seriously, and any other staff volunteering for this selfless cause.

“Katie goes to Sierra Leone with our very best wishes, I am sure that everybody at the whole trust wishes her well for her time abroad.”