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WWL Staff in Medical Mission to Sierra Leone

Newsdate: 6 February 2014

Pictured from left to right: Professor Raj Murali, Debbi Wallis - Graduate Finance Trainee and Physiotherapist, Mr Pattibiraman Venkataraman - Consultant Anaesthetist , Sarah Booth – Physiotherapist and Mr Sohail Akhtar, Consultant Orthopaedic and Plastic SurgeonIn December 2013, a team including doctors and physiotherapists from Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) spent nine days on a medical mission to Sierra Leone. This is extremely commendable as staff used their own annual leave to make the trip as well as taking medical equipment and medication over with them.  This is the fourth year running that staff from WWL has travelled to the country to provide help and assistance to medical staff in a hospital in Makeni.  This has enabled the residents of Makeni and its surrounding towns and villages access to specialist care and treatment that would normally not be available to them.

Following assessment of over 150 people, the surgeons operated for five days which ranged from removal of ‘lumps and bumps’ to much more complex, intricate procedures such as putting external pins in a leg fracture and several skin grafts.

The three consultants who made the trip have a range of experience in orthopaedics, anaesthetics and plastic surgery and literally have transformed the lives of the patients they treated.

Professor Raj Murali, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at WWL is the instigator of this annual mission, through his work with the British Society for Surgery of the Hand.  Professor Murali says: “It is extremely rewarding and pleasing to be able to help, treat and provide care to people who would normally be left to self- manage with conditions untreated. For example, many fractures, broken hips, wound infections and large cysts would not normally be treated in Makeni as they do not have the resources or expertise to do so.  In the NHS, access to treatment to these sort of procedures are taken for granted and expected as standard by our patients in the UK.”

Professor Murali continues: “We saw patients who had walked not just for hours but even days to access our services.  It was humbling to receive such immense gratitude from everyone we met or treated.  It was also extremely fulfilling to realise we had literally changed people’s lives for the better.”

Debbi Wallis, Graduate Finance Trainee and Physiotherapist who was part of the team says: “It was an incredible experience which made me realise that as both as a member of NHS staff and currently an NHS patient we don’t recognise how extremely lucky we are having a free NHS, until you see the struggle of life without one.   Not only do people over there not have ready access to services.  In fact there is not even a MRI scanner in the whole country and only one CT scanner, but all drugs even common drugs are accessed via a prescription which can cost over £10.00. This is unbelievably expensive as the average resident of Sierra Leone earns just £400.00 per year and £10.00 is a third of their monthly salary!”

Pictured above from left to right: Professor Raj Murali, Debbi Wallis - Graduate Finance Trainee and Physiotherapist, Mr Pattibiraman Venkataraman - Consultant Anaesthetist ,  Sarah Booth – Physiotherapist and Mr Sohail Akhtar, Consultant Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgeon.

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