A group of colleagues from the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust have returned from a two-week Orthopaedic camp in Nanyuki, Kenya. Working alongside teams from other hospitals across the South West, the team from RCHT spent time volunteering at Nanyuki Teaching & Referral Hospital to help support, skill share and develop the Orthopaedic service they currently provide.Anneka Southworth, Anaesthetic and Pain Service Manager at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, was among the attendees as the role of the ODP. Also present on the trip was Dr Will Jewell, Lead Consultant Anaesthetist for Future Health Africa, Dr Katharine Sprigge, Consultant Anesthetists, Mr Poulter and Mr Kincaid, both Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons, Eve Richards, Radiographer, and Helen Williams, as admin and data collector.
“’Working together, learning together’ is always our motto for these visits,” Anneka explains. “Our attendance is always well advertised in advance, so it’s not unusual for us to arrive to long queues of patients, which on this trip included several hundred people attending each day. These patients have travelled from nearby towns and villages, sometimes for days, to get themselves into the hospital for a review. For the period of the Orthopaedic Camp, all charges for treatment were suspended, so patients received their care for free. The team triage the patients and list those we can operate on, refer some to the team physios and others the local team for treatment”.
“This year we split our surgical team,” Anneka continues. “We normally stay in one theatre, but the hospital that we were in this time had two theatres. As a result, we doubled our workload, and carried out 65 operations throughout our time there.”
Discussing some of the highlights of the visit, Anneka adds: “I did a training session with some nurses about recovering patients, and what we would do in our recovery unit. We looked at the perioperative booklets that we used within our hospital and discussed how they could introduce those as a resource. As well as this, our radiographer conducted a ‘Radiation in theatre safety session’ and the surgeons and anesthetists were teaching every time they operated, as well as running teaching sessions for all clinical staff prior to operating in the morning. Training sessions included fracture management, management of pain, management of club foot, traction management, and use of regional blocks.
“The sessions were well attended by the local teams, with usually around 50 in attendance, and they were keen to start implementing the skills they were learning. Our Consultant Anesthetists had a great response to sessions on neuromuscular blocks for procedures. Following a team brief every morning, implementing what is safe practice within our hospital here in Cornwall to the team in Nanyuki, the local teams would assist or run the list with our team supporting. It was a great team effort all round, also creating great friendships with our new colleagues at the time.”
The visit was undertaken in conjunction with Future Health Africa, a UK-based charity which strives for sustainable improvement in the health and wellbeing of people in low-middle-income countries.
“Normally, Future Health Africa arrange these trips twice a year, but because of the Covid pandemic, the annual trips had been postponed,” Anneka adds. “This was the first trip we’ve taken since the start of the pandemic and was all carried out under pre-Covid conditions. It’s all self-funded by the volunteers. We do work to raise charitable funds throughout the year with various events, but the majority of people undertake the trip in their own time and rely on using their own annual leave/study leave entitlement to take time off work.”
Alongside the surgeries and consultations, a big part of the trip is education. Anneka explains: “As much as the trip provides an opportunity for the doctors and nurses in Nanyuki to learn from our skills and experiences, we’re also learning from them. Primarily, we can learn how to deal with environments and circumstances we wouldn’t normally encounter back home, but we’re also adapting to the way the teams there are operating and they’re learning from us about how to complete these operations and skills. It’s incredibly fulfilling and a tremendous way to test the effectiveness of our service and the care we provide.”