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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Clinical scientists recognised for their work in the Ebola crisis

20/11/2015
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The Chairman of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dame Fiona Caldicott, was delighted to present special awards to clinical scientists in recognition of their work tackling the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

Dr Bethan McDonald, specialty registrar in public health and Dr Laura Lopez Pascua, genomics clinical scientist were applauded by the Trust's directors of the Board and members of staff and public at the meeting in November.

A third clinical scientist Chloe Eaton was also honoured for her work, but was unable to attend the presentation ceremony having moved to work at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

It was announced in June 2015 by the government that a new medal would be awarded to recognise the bravery and hard work of thousands of people who helped tackle Ebola in West Africa. Laura, Bethan and Chloe were among 3,000 people who travelled from the UK to work in high risk areas to stop the spread of the disease.

Bethan, based within the Department of Public Health Medicine, worked in Sierra Leone for five weeks in the Public Health England laboratories.

She said: "My experience in Sierra Leone was enlightening, challenging and very rewarding. The work was very hot and tiring and was emotionally difficult at times. I was working with a team of professional, dedicated and compassionate people, and we worked hard to provide the best service possible for our patients.  I am very glad to have been able to contribute to the outbreak response and to use my skills to help make a difference."

Laura works in the Medical Genetics Laboratories at the Trust where she is completing the Scientist Training Programme (STP) in Genomics.

"I knew I wanted to volunteer the moment I heard about the scale of the Ebola outbreak, so when the government made a call for laboratory scientists I didn't hesitate.

"Working in Sierra Leone was unforgettable, but very difficult. What I found the hardest was witnessing the health inequalities between the UK and Sierra Leone. Simple ailments that we would not think twice about in the UK could be a death sentence to the locals.

" Chloe Eaton worked in Sierra Leone in a Public Health England laboratory team testing hundreds of samples a day. She admits it was a little frightening but nowhere near as much as telling her family she was going!

She said: "We worked in a beautiful country with upbeat people but in real crisis. A highlight for me was seeing the laboratory become operational, despite the initial challenges, generating diagnostic results that would make a huge difference."

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