UK Politics

UK Ebola aid workers to qualify for medals says Cameron

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Media captionDavid Cameron revealed the new medal during prime minister's questions

Britons who have travelled to west Africa to help the fight against Ebola will be eligible for a new medal, Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed.

The PM said he would recommend the new award to The Queen as a mark of the "immense debt of gratitude" owed to NHS medics, the armed forces, civil servants and aid workers.

About 2,000 people could be eligible.

Speaking during Prime Minister's questions, he suggested it would be ready by the summer.

Two British nurses, William Pooley and Pauline Cafferkey, contracted Ebola, which has killed about 9,000 people since the outbreak was first reported in March 2014.

Both of them made a full recovery after treatment in London.

Ebola deaths

Figures up to 13 January 2016

11,315

Deaths - probable, confirmed and suspected

(Includes one in the US and six in Mali)

  • 4,809 Liberia

  • 3,955 Sierra Leone

  • 2,536 Guinea

  • 8 Nigeria

Getty

There are about 800 UK military personnel in Sierra Leone, where they built a hospital complex just outside the capital Freetown, where Save the Children operates a treatment centre.

In December it was revealed that 16 military reservists would join regular troops to help tackle the outbreak.

'Bravery recognised'

Mr Cameron was asked by Conservative MP Margot James to find a way to recognise the bravery of people working to tackle the "scourge" of Ebola.

The prime minister agreed, saying they were "incredibly brave people who have worked in very difficult conditions, including many of them over Christmas".

He said: "They are the people who are helping to save thousands of lives in Africa and protecting the UK from the potentially disastrous consequences of the disease spreading.

"In recognition of the bravery of those from the UK, I intend to recommend to Her Majesty The Queen a new medal to pay tribute to their efforts."

Afterwards the prime minister's official spokesman said the focus would be on people who have travelled to and worked in the region to "recognise the particular risks" they have faced.

Military personnel would be able to wear the medal on their uniform.

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