Syrian refugee working for NHS thanks ‘great’ British public after government U-turn on charges

‘Britain is great – because of you,’ he said after the government reversed its stance 

Matt Mathers
Friday 22 May 2020 18:57
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'You restored my faith' Hospital cleaner Hassan Akkad gives a message to British public

Bafta-winning filmmaker Hassan Akkad, who is working as an NHS cleaner, has thanked the British public after the government announced a U-turn on the NHS bereavement scheme.

The Syrian refugee, who signed up to work on a Covid-19 ward during the pandemic, made a viral video protesting at the exclusion of cleaners and porters from the scheme.

Within hours of the video being posted to Twitter on 20 May, Priti Patel, the home secretary, extended the scheme to all NHS staff in an embarrassing U-turn for the government.

Akkad, who also played a key role in helping campaigners force Downing Street into a second U-turn on the £624-a-year healthcare surcharge on migrants working in the NHS, says he will use his newfound platform to further other causes.

He also praised the British public for their support during the campaign.

In a new video posted to Twitter on 21 May, Akkad said: “Yesterday’s message was to the prime minister, but today’s message is to you.

“To the British public: thanks to you, and to the unions, to the campaigners... who helped get our message across. Thanks to everyone who put pressure on the government; they U-turned.

“Migrant workers on the frontline are now exempt from the NHS surcharge.”

Mr Akkad said the campaign had restored his and his colleagues’ faith in the UK.

He added: “My colleagues and I, the cleaners, the porters, and the healthcare assistants... we are no longer excluded from the bereavement scheme.

“Yesterday... I lost my faith, but you [the public] restored my faith and the faith of my colleagues in this country.

“This will not be the last time you will hear from me because I have a platform now and I’m going to use it for the greater good.

“I am feeling proud, happy and grateful. Thank you, Britain is great – because of you.”

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