A TEAM of dedicated workers from a health trust are heading on a mercy mission to Cambodia to help transform healthcare in the country.
Six staff from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust will head out to Asia on October 31, to pass on advice and help to develop healthcare which is hugely underdeveloped.
There will also be a specialist from the neighbouring South Tees health trust on the trip, along with a lecturer from Teesside University who has previous experience of trips to Cambodia and a specialoist who will lead the team to the Battambang Hospital.
Claire Young, head of communications for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, is on the trip.
She said: “Everyone on the trip is an expert in their own field, and we hope we will be able to help them develop their healthcare when we get there.
“Diabetes is very prevalent in the country so Lisa Doughty and Julie Sinclair, who are both diabetes specialist nurses, are going.
“Another area identified by a health needs assessment done in 2014 was infection prevention and control so Elizabeth Warde, who is an infection prevention nurse specialist, is also on the team.
“Maternal and infant mortality rates are also high so for that reason consultant obstetrician Steve Wild and midwife Shirley Carter are part of the team and we also have Michelle Jones, a neonatal nurse from The James Cook University Hospital, and her husband Graham Jones who is a lecturer at Teesside University.
“We are in the safe hands of Edwin Pugh who used to work in the trust as consultant in palliative care medicine.
“He has a long association with Cambodia and is travelling out early to welcome us when we arrive.
Claire said the team are all looking forward to the trip, though there is a feeling of apprehension about what they could face when they get there.
She added: “Graham and Michelle have had backpacking holidays to Cambodia before so they know what to expect, and Steve has worked in India, but the rest of us have never done anything like this before so we are all apprehensive but also excited about the trip.”
Some of the nurses on the trip have been funded by bursaries, while others are paying their own way.
The trip will not be a one-off either, with plans to head back there in February and November next year to keep up the good work.
Claire went on: “We’re in the process of recruiting for the February 2015 trip and the plan is to have November and February trips for however long we can add value to the Battambang Hospital and clinics so this is a long-term commitment.
“The hospital is looking for people with all sorts of skills so it’s not just for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.”
Anyone interested in helping out, with or without an NHS background, can visit the charity website www.transformhealthcarecambodia.org.uk where all applications will be considered.
People can also donate to the ongoing fundraising appealon the same website by clicking the ‘GIVE’ button, or the Facebook page Transform Healthcare Cambodia.