Salisbury Doctors Admit Skripals' Long-Term Prognosis Is Uncertain, Three Months On From Nerve Agent Attack

Salisbury Hospital medical staff admit they didn't think that Sergei and Yulia Skripal would survive the nerve agent attack, and their long-term prognosis remains uncertain.

What you need to know
  • Doctors are uncertain of the long-term health of the Skripals
  • The pair were not expected to survive the March 4 nerve agent attack
  • Treating staff feared they too would be affected by the poison

Nearly three months on from the near-fatal poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the pair's long-term prognosis remains uncertain.

Dr Christine Blanshard, Medical Director at Salisbury Hospital where the Skripals were treated said medical staff were still "learning" and could not give an accurate prognosis for the father-daughter pair.

"I think the honest answer is that we don't know. We have a total world experience of treating three patients for the effects of Novichok poisoning," Blanshard told the BBC's Newsnight program on Monday night.

Salisbury District Hospital during the time the Skripals were being treated. Image: Reuters

Dr Stephen Jenkins, Salisbury Hospital Head of Intensive Care Consultant, said the Skripals had not been expected to survive when they were first admitted on March 4.

"When we first were aware this was a nerve agent we were expecting them not to survive. We would try all our therapies. We would ensure the best clinical care," he said.

"But all the evidence was there that they would not survive."

While providing the basic Critical Care to the pair, Salisbury Hospital relied on the assistance of international experts to fight the effects of the Novichok poison.

"I would say the vast majority of the improvement and the success, if you like, of the clinical outcomes in these things, these individuals, were attributable to the very good, generic, basic Critical Care. Excellent teamwork by the doctors; fantastic care and dedication by our nurses," said Head of Intensive Care Department Dr Duncan Murray.

"I guess, supported and supplemented a great deal by some input from really really well informed international experts, which very fortunately, some of whom happen to be on our doorstep at Porton Down."

While the staff wanted to provide the best care for the Skripals, there was also a fear it could have become "all-consuming and involve many casualties" said  Lorna Wilkinson, Director of Nursing.

"When the (policeman) was admitted with symptoms -- there was a real concern as to how big could this get," she said.

"We really didn't know at that point."

Yulia Skripal was released from hospital on April 10 while her father was released almost six weeks later on May 18.