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1,000 NHS volunteers in Ebola fight

More than 1,000 NHS staff have now volunteered to visit west Africa to help British efforts to combat Ebola, new figures show.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison added a further 185 staff from Public Health England (PHE) have also put their names forward.

The latest figures show the growing response from health staff willing to aid the British work in the region following an appeal from chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs last month that 659 front-line NHS staff and 130 PHE staff had volunteered to go out to Sierra Leone.

More than 13,200 cases and 4,960 deaths from Ebola have been reported, according to figures released by the World Health Organisation last week.

The outbreak of the deadly virus has largely affected Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Ms Ellison confirmed not every UK health worker who has registered to help will be deployed to Africa.

The minister, in response to a written parliamentary question, said: "The chief medical officer wrote to National Health Service medical and nursing directors on 19 September seeking volunteers to help efforts on the ground in West Africa.

"Currently over 1,000 NHS staff and 185 staff from Public Health England have put their names forward through UK Med, which runs the UK International Emergency Medical Register.

"The programme comprises a robust selection process, pre-deployment vaccinations and occupational health and psychological screening, training in the UK with further training and mentoring in Sierra Leone, and advice and support on monitoring health on return.

"We do not expect everyone on the register to be deployed.

"We do not know how many UK health care workers are currently deployed with non-governmental organisations on the ground in West Africa."

Democratic Unionist William McCrea (South Antrim) had asked: "How many UK health workers have gone to West Africa to help tackle the Ebola virus?"

Conservative Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham) last week used a parliamentary debate to ask for more information on the work to combat Ebola - including the whereabouts of the British health workers who volunteered to help.

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