Hand trauma patients in East Africa have been receiving treatment at a new purpose-built healthcare facility in a service launched by a Peterborough City Hospital surgeon and his team.
Consultant Hand and Wrist Surgeon Jonathan Jones took unpaid leave from his role at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust as part of his semi-retirement plan, and spent four weeks working for the British Society for Surgery of the Hand (BSSH) - making a difference to the lives of patients thousands of miles away in Malawi.
The trip to the central public hospital was part of a transitional plan to deliver this new subspecialty service in a new purpose-built healthcare facility.
Mr Jones was the first consultant in a team of orthopaedic and plastic surgeons and trainees to work in Kamuzu Central Hospital alongside the new Lilongwe Institute of Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery (LION) where patients are treated free of charge.
He said: “I led the first team, arriving in mid-January, so that we would be ready for the launch of the hand surgery and therapy service on 1 February. This comprised myself as an orthopaedic hand surgeon and a plastics specialty trainee for the first two weeks.
“We were joined by another orthopaedic hand surgeon two weeks’ later and an occupational hand therapist after three weeks offering a comprehensive multidisciplinary service.
“The team quickly integrated with the local orthopaedic department, both seeing and treating a large number of hand trauma patients resulting from road traffic accidents and industrial accidents in addition to machete (“Panga”) injuries from street crime.
“We developed processes of care and organised equipment, including hand instrument sets, and set up weekly teaching sessions on hand surgery and a virtual multi-disciplinary team service with surgeons working in “National Centres of Excellence” in the UK.”
According to The British Society for Surgery of the Hand (BSSH), Malawi has the 9th highest rate of road traffic deaths in the world, and for every death, there are 25 non-fatal injuries causing permanent disability which can affect whole families and lead to poverty and dependency.
Patients treated by the BSSH included a 90-year-old diabetic woman who was suffering from severe index finger infection.
Mr Jones added: “She was very satisfied with her treatment and paid me a delightful compliment, that she would give me some of her land - which I was told is really equivalent to a big thank you!”
LION Hospital is attached to the Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital city of Malawi, Lilongwe, which serves a catchment population of several million people.
The BSSH and the British Association of Hand Therapists (BAHT) will assist LION in the delivery of treatment for elective and traumatic conditions of the hand for the next five years.
BSSH and BAHT volunteers will work in the LION Hospital during this time, alongside local staff in the running of specialist hand clinics and regular hand trauma and elective lists, while promoting sustainability through education and training.
For more information on the project please visit LION Hand Unit | The British Society for Surgery of the Hand (bssh.ac.uk)
Peterborough City Hospital, Rutland and Stamford Hospital and Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon are all part of North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust.
1 Consultant hand and wrist surgeon Jonathan Jones with his team at LION.
2 Consultant hand and wrist surgeon Jonathan Jones with a 90-year-old patient in Malawi following her treatment.
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