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WWL surgeon honoured for life-saving overseas work

Newsdate: 1 March 2018 

A Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Wrightington Hospital is to be honoured with a prestigious Rotary award for his volunteering and mentoring work overseas.

Tony Clayson, from Worsley, has travelled to Hawassa in Southern Ethopia seven times since 2015, along with teams of surgeons, physiotherapists and critical care staff from across the UK and Australia to set up the ‘Developing Orthopaedic Trauma Services in Africa’ project, supported by Rotary

As Ethiopia is undergoing a period of rapid infrastructure development, with extensive road building and construction, the country has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of deaths and severely injured patients it is seeing due to traumatic accidents.

Without the facilities or a fully trained workforce available to treat such severe injuries, Tony and the medical teams took instruments and other essential equipment to enable them to assist Ethiopian colleagues performing operations, train and mentor hospital staff including surgeons, anaesthetists and nursing staff in all aspects of trauma care and in just under two years, over 2,500 major operations have been carried out locally in the newly established trauma unit in Hawassa.

Tony, who has worked for Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust since September 2009, having previously been a Consultant at North Manchester General Hospital for 15 years, said: “With our expertise in the management of trauma, myself and my consultant colleague at WWL, Henry Wynn Jones, were asked to support the development of a new trauma unit in Hawassa Hospital, Southern Ethiopia as part of a countrywide initiative to lead the sustainable development of trauma services in Ethiopia.

"We have established the North West Orthopaedic and Trauma Alliance for Africa (NOTAA) and, since November 2015, I have made seven visits to Ethiopia leading teams of orthopaedic consultants and trainees, physiotherapists and critical care consultants, undertaking the training of Ethiopian colleagues and helping the development of a new trauma unit in Hawassa, a hospital with a catchment population of approximately 4.5 Million"

Tony added: "I wanted my knowledge and teaching skills to facilitate the development of sustainable trauma services in Ethiopia to help the country deal with its increasing burden of trauma which has become an obstacle to its future development as a country and is now a greater cause of death than conditions such as HIV, TB and Malaria, and is the commonest cause of death and disability in the younger population aged 18-25."

The project, backed by Worsley Rotary along with other Rotary Clubs across the Northwest and World Orthopaedic Concern UK, has resulted in the establishment of a new charity NOTAA, the Northwest Orthopaedic and Trauma Alliance for Africa ( which envisages staff from trauma units across North West England getting involved as the project continues.

Tony will receive his Champions of Change award, with other Rotary heroes from across the country, at a ceremony hosted by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff in Cardiff City Hall in May.

He said: "I feel honoured to receive such a prestigious award and very grateful for all the help and support I have received from my work colleagues at WWL, along with colleagues from other Trusts in the North West and my friends in Worsley Rotary."

The search for champions was carried out across Rotary’s network of nearly 2,000 clubs and 50,000 members, revealing endeavours ranging from supporting armed forces veterans with mental health issues to helping vulnerable street children in Swaziland.

Denis Spiller, President of Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland, commented: "The selfless and truly life-changing impact of our champions really demonstrates that we all make a difference."

"Tony’s work has saved so many lives in Africa. He is a very worthy recipient of a Rotary Champions of Change award."