Health trust team help save lives in Cambodia

DISHING UP: Serving food to patients from the roadside. Below, Claire Young, top, and Edwin Pugh, bottom.
DISHING UP: Serving food to patients from the roadside. Below, Claire Young, top, and Edwin Pugh, bottom.

DEDICATED workers from a health trust have returned from a mercy mission to Cambodia with a determination to give even more help.

A team of experts at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust made the 6,000 mile trip to meet the staff and patients of the Battambang Referral Hospital.

It was the realisation of a dream which was two years in the making.

The team, led by former consultant in palliative care medicine Edwin Pugh, arrived at Siem Reap airport in November. The next morning, they made a three-hour road trip to Battambang to be ready for work.

The visit was the first of many, each with the aim of the charity Transform Healthcare Cambodia to relieve sickness and to promote and protect good health for the benefit of the public.

Trust workers were there to educate local people on the prevention of diseases and hygiene, and provide equipment and financial support.

Edwin said: “The visit of the first clinical team is quite a landmark for the charity.

“Without exception, everyone felt they could make a contribution and they established promising relationships with the hospital’s clinical team. There is much to do and the charity plans to send teams to Cambodia every November and February for as long as this is mutually beneficial.”

Head of communications at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, Claire Young, funded her trip with the first team.

She said: “I wanted to go along to really understand what it was like in Cambodia. It was a culture shock but I felt nothing but admiration for these people who were trying to rebuild their society after the atrocities of the Pol Pot regime in the late 70s.

“Perhaps because of their Buddhist beliefs people were very accepting of their fate. They did not shout or complain when in pain and they waited patiently, sometimes for days, for doctors to attend them.

“I came back thinking how lucky we are here to have the NHS but also committed to returning to Cambodia to support the clinical teams in any way I can.”

To find out more about Transform Healthcare Cambodia, visit www.transformhealthcarecambodia.org.uk or search Transform Healthcare Cambodia on Facebook.