Health staff to share their expertise

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MEDICAL staff from the region have been selected for a volunteering scheme to provide training on life-saving healthcare to medical workers in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Skilled health professionals from across Britain – including those from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – will teach and offer practical assistance to their counterparts in the developing world under the government’s Health Partnership Scheme.

Over four years, the programme will train 13,000 overseas healthcare workers across many disciplines; support 142 skilled British healthcare volunteers for six months or over; and enable 600 UK healthworkers to volunteer overseas on short-term placements.

British health workers will pass on their experience to colleagues in developing countries with practical ‘on the job’ training by demonstrating their skills on patients.

They will also offer one-to-one mentoring, run courses and develop guidelines and protocols to ensure clinics run more effectively.

Northumbria Healthcare has been awarded a grant by UK Aid to assist with the development of Tanzania’s first dedicated burns unit at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC).

Currently burns patients across Tanzania are being cared for on general surgical wards where the risk of cross infection is high.

The project lead for Northumbria’s burns project is Helen Boon MBE – a community nurse based at North Tyneside General Hospital – who has visited Tanzania several times in the past ten years.

She will lead a team of five specialists, who are heading off to KCMC in June, to deliver teaching and practical training to staff ahead of opening the new burns unit.

The Director of Nursing from KCMC, Redempta Mamseri is currently visiting Northumbria to gather information, and to take lessons back to Tanzania.

The project, already helping introduce new methods of care for burns patients, will see the team extending their work to the villages so that burns can be treated appropriately to prepare patients for the long trek to the nearest hospital for treatment.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: “British nurses, midwives and medical teams are among the best in the world.

“The Health Partnership Scheme allows us to harness their expertise to help give developing countries the skills needed to improve the health of some of the world’s poorest people.”

Professor Richard Walker, lead clinician for the Northumbria health link and based at North Tyneside General Hospital, said: “We have been working in partnership with KCMC for more than ten years.

“During this time we have been able to make real differences to health services by combining ideas and energy.

“The burns project offers a unique opportunity to show the real impact that UK volunteers can have in benefiting healthcare services for the poor.”