Updates on the Salisbury incident

Hello, my name is Dr Christine Blanshard and I’m the Medical Director here at Salisbury District Hospital. I am joined by Lorna Wilkinson our Director of Nursing. I want to give you an update on the progress of the two remaining inpatients that we are treating here at the Hospital – Sergei and Yulia Skripal. I will not be taking questions following this statement.

Following the incident on March 4, Salisbury District Hospital received three people who required inpatient care – Sergei and Yulia Skripal and DS Nick Bailey, who was discharged on March 22. All three had been exposed to a nerve agent – a highly toxic chemical which aims to prevent the nervous system from functioning.

In the four weeks since the incident in the city centre, both have received round the clock care from our clinicians, who’ve been able to draw in advice and support from world leading experts in this field. We’ve been keeping you updated on the condition of Yulia and Sergei, whilst respecting the right to privacy to which they – and all our patients – are entitled.

While I won’t go into great detail about the treatment we’ve been providing, I will say that nerve agents work by attaching themselves to a particular enzyme in the body which then stops the nerves from working properly. This results in symptoms such as sickness, hallucinations and  confusion. Our job in treating the patients has been to stabilise them– ensuring that the patients could breathe and that blood could continue to circulate. We then needed to use a variety of different drugs to support the patients until they could create more enzymes to replace those affected by the poisoning. We also used specialised decontamination techniques to remove any residual toxins.

Both patients have responded exceptionally well to the treatment we’ve been providing. But equally, both patients are at different stages in their recovery.

Yulia has now been discharged from Salisbury District Hospital. Yulia has asked for privacy from the media and I want to reiterate that request. I also want to take this opportunity to wish Yulia well. This is not the end of her treatment, but marks a significant milestone.

Her father has also made good progress. On Friday I announced that he was no longer in a critical condition. Although he is recovering more slowly than Yulia, we hope that he too will be able to leave hospital in due course.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to the staff here at Salisbury District Hospital. The past few weeks have been enormously testing on all our staff. They have pulled together, not just to deliver outstanding care to the individuals caught up in these terrible events, but to all our patients as they do day in, day out.

Both our clinical staff and our staff behind the scenes have been a credit to the hospital, to the NHS and to Salisbury as a city.  Thank you.