KIND-HEARTED medical staff from South Tyneside have helped change the lives of more than 200 patients in one of the poorest areas of India.
The party of 26 people from hospitals across the region, including South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields, carried out about 235 procedures during an intensive, six-day period.
The specialities involved included urology; plastic, orthopaedic, eye and general surgery; gynaecology; radiology; anaesthetics; physiotherapy and acute pain management.
It was the ninth visit by the team to Walawalkar Hospital, in Dervan, on India’s West coast.
Several of the patients operated on had returned following surgery in previous years, as the treatment they require needs to be carried out in stages.
Dr Sanjay Deshpande, consultant anaesthetist at South Tyneside District Hospital, who originally had the idea for the annual medical mission, said: “Treating these patients was particularly rewarding, as we were able to witness how much progress they had made.
“A high percentage of the patients we saw had very complex needs and advanced illnesses, which often require input from several different specialties.
“Having consultants from these specialties available in the camp at the same time meant the patients could have their essential, often life-saving, surgery within the six-day period.
“We also had the expertise to advise the hospital on updating its practices in pain relief and physiotherapy.”
Supporting the clinical work of the doctors and nurses were staff from Harton Lane hospital’s biomedical engineering department, who also helped to repair and maintain Walawalkar’s essential medical equipment.
Dr Deshpande added: “Whilst the main purpose of our visit is to carry out medical procedures, it also gives the staff at Walawalkar Hospital a huge morale boost, and we were given a very warm welcome.
“Having medical staff from the UK there raises the profile of the hospital and encourages medical and nursing staff in India to want to work there and assist in its development.”
Anyone wishing to make a contribution financially, or donating books, clothing and equipment for the volunteers to take with them on the 2015 trip, can contact Dr Deshpande on 202 4046 or Dave Wales on 202 4142.