Helena Robinson, a postdoctoral research officer at Bangor University, has handed back her Ebola medal to the Government. Robinson, 29, from Guernsey, was awarded the medal following her five-week deployment to Sierra Leone during the West Africa Ebola crisis in December 2014. The PhD student was placed in a diagnostics lab in Sierra Leone over Christmas 2014 set up by Public Health England. She was assigned to the Kerry Town treatment centre which was run by Save the Children.
Sierra Leone was declared free of the Ebola virus in November 2015. Along with 19 others, Helena handed back her medal in protest against the Government’s policies and denial of health care to patients in the UK who are unable to prove their immigration status.
Helena said: “I returned my medal in protest at the regulations that govern the charging of overseas visitors receiving NHS care which were brought in in October 2017. “I am particularly appalled at the upfront charging of pregnant women for maternity care and terminations. Those who cannot pay can be pursued in court or have their details shared with the home office, which is a clear deterrent to seeking care. “I think it is hypocritical to send a battalion of medical workers overseas to fight Ebola and then deny some sections of society healthcare at home. It is also damaging to domestic public health to have a population that is invisible to the healthcare system.”
In support, Arfon MP Hywel Williams said: “I have tabled a motion in Parliament applauding my local constituent Helena Robinson for her principled decision to hand back her Ebola medal in protest at the Government’s hostile environment policies.” “We respect the integrity of these professionals who crossed borders to help patients in desperate need, and now act to stand against the Government-imposed borders between health workers and patients in the UK. “We call on the Government to put an end to their hostile environment policies and their unyielding attacks on the most vulnerable in our society.”