There are renewed calls for the 200 NHS workers and academics, who risked their lives in combating the deadly Ebola virus disease in West Africa, to receive the more than £4,000 bonus that was paid to colleagues working for Public Health England (PHE).
Unite, the country’s largest union with 100,000 members in the health service, has been campaigning since the end of last year, but said today (Thursday 7 July) that it will renew its efforts to rectify this ‘huge inequality’, after David Cameron said he would look specifically at the bonus issue when it was raised at prime minister’s questions (PMQs).
Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said: “We have been met with a brick wall, having written twice to international development (DFID) secretary, Justine Greening and received no response about addressing this huge inequality.
“The prime minister’s answer at PMQs in relation to Pauline Cafferkey, the nurse who nearly lost her life while treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, but has yet to receive the £4,000 bonus, could break this logjam.
“Unite will be renewing its efforts to get justice for those that risked their lives in fighting the Ebola virus and we will be raising this with Kate Osamor, the shadow international development secretary.
“This is a matter that has taken far too long to resolve and it is about the unequal treatment for volunteers, who risked their health and their lives to go to West Africa and to help those suffering desperately at a time of great need.”
The union said that about 250 staff from Public Health England (PHE), including the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and Public Health Wales (PHW), were given this payment for their work in Sierra Leone. PHE was reimbursed by DFID.
But 200 volunteers from the NHS and academia have, so far, been denied the payment, even though they were working in the same life-threatening situations.
Unite said that those that went to West Africa did not go for financial reward, but there should not be a two-tier bonus payment system.
The payment was broken down as follows: a deployment allowance of £516.50, an operational working allowance of £3,615.50 and a tax free clothing allowance of £100. However, there was a caveat attached that these payments would be for PHE, DSTL and PHW colleagues only.
After more than 11,000 deaths over nearly two years, the West Africa Ebola outbreak was finally declared over on 14 January 2016. However, The World Health Organisation has warned that more flare ups can be expected.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.