A longstanding international partnership with a North East health trust and a hospital in Tanzania has been shortlisted for a national award for transforming healthcare.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is in the running for a Health Service Journal (HSJ) award for making a difference to health outcomes in Tanzania.
For almost 20 years, the trust has worked in partnership with Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Tanzania to provide training and support to teams.
This has led to the introduction of new services such as laparoscopic (key-hole) surgery, the country’s first dedicated burns unit and an outreach ultrasound service for rural areas which have revolutionised patient care.
Overall, the partnership has trained more than 4,000 healthcare professionals which has included developingTanzania’s only BSc physiotherapy course, an accredited short course in ultrasound and setting up an exchange programme which has seen more than 50 medical students learn valuable skills by carrying out placements in Northumberland and North Tyneside.
Northumbria Healthcare is at the forefront of work and is recognised across the NHS for developing international links. Volunteer teams from the trust give up their time to visit Tanzania, supported by Northumbria’s Bright charity.
Prof Richard Walker, consultant physician and director of research at Northumbria Healthcare, has been involved in the partnership since its inception in 1999.
He said: “This award nomination is the culmination of almost 20 years’ partnership working with KCMC and we are delighted that this has been recognised nationally.
“We have overcome immense challenges along the way and it would not have been possible without the continued dedication of our staff who have given up their own time to support their colleagues in Tanzania.
“Everything we have managed to achieve – from the introduction of laparoscopic surgery to improving training for physiotherapists – has had a major impact on health outcomes and enhanced the lives of patients and their families and we look forward to the awards being announced.”
Dr Gileard Masenga, executive director at KCMC, said: “Our hearts are full of joy at KCMC to learn that our work with Northumbria Healthcare has been recognised in this way.
“This strong partnership has greatly improved health services for the north of Tanzania and we look forward to continuing our close working partnership for many years to come.”
Setting up laparoscopic surgery in Tanzania – a type of procedure which is common-place in the UK – has reduced patients’ length of stay in hospital, resulting in less overcrowding on wards and decreased the risk of infection.
The dedicated burns unit means people, often mothers and young children, can receive life-saving care, in an area of the country where people cook on open fires.
The multi award-winning partnership was the focus of a behind-the-scenes documentary last year, premiered at the Global Health Film Festival in London, which followed the team as they performed Tanzania’s first laparoscopic day-case operation - where the patient has the procedure and goes home the same day.
Northumbria Healthcare is shortlisted in the international partnership award category. The HSJ awards recognise, celebrate and promote the finest achievements in the NHS and will be held in London on November 22.
To find out more about the link, visit www.northumbria.nhs.uk