Southampton doctor honoured for commitment to overseas healthcare

Oliver RossA Southampton doctor has been honoured for his commitment to developing and improving healthcare overseas.

Dr Ollie Ross, a consultant anaesthetist at Southampton General Hospital, was presented with the McColl global health prize by Lord Ian McColl, emeritus professor of surgery at Guy’s Hospital and chairman of the international healthcare charity Mercy Ships UK.

In 2007, Dr Ross formed voluntary staff society Southampton Overseas Health and Medicine (SOHMED) for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust staff travelling across the world to raise awareness of global health issues and improve networking.

Since its development, he has been working with colleagues in Southampton and other UK hospitals to improve skills, training methods and facilities for anaesthetists in Nepal, a country which suffers from a chronic shortage of the specialist doctors.

The group has worked in rural district hospitals as well as large central government training hospitals such as Bir and Kanti children’s hospitals in the country’s capital Kathmandu to improve anaesthesia skills in emergency care, surgery and intensive care.

Due to the shortage – 0.3 anaesthetists per 100,000 compared to 17 per 100,000 in the UK – anaesthesia in Nepal’s district hospitals is delivered mainly by nurses who are known as anaesthesia assistants.

Dr Ross and his team visit twice a year to support training through courses and evaluation visits and have pioneered an extensive video library of techniques to assist the teaching programme which, due to its success, now forms part of a distance learning package for all non-doctor anaesthetists in the country.

Three years after the development of SOHMED, UHS established an international relations group, chaired by medical director Dr Michael Marsh, to formalise links with Nepal and in Ghana’s upper east region in partnership with the children’s rights organisation Afrikids.

In addition to Nepal and Ghana, the international relations group now oversees a number of major projects led by clinicians and managers in Southampton, including ophthalmology in Kenya, neurology in Ethiopia and international support via Mercy Ships UK.

The presentation of the McColl global health prize formed part of the recent Southampton Global Health Day event, which was organised by consultant ophthalmic surgeon and Mercy Ships volunteer Richard Newsom to raise awareness of the work undertaken by individuals and groups at UHS.

The conference included talks from a number of leading national and international health experts, with Dr Peter Campbell, a consultant in international public health at the University of Heidelberg, and Mr Andrew Jones from the Tropical Health and Education Trust among the key speakers.

Mr Newsom said: “We are extremely proud to have played host to such an important event which heard not only from some exceptional staff in Southampton, but also a number of renowned national and international global health experts.

“Dr Ollie Ross has been instrumental in leading the development of international links within UHS and we are delighted his achievements have been recognised with such a distinguished and deserved award on this special occasion.”

Posted on Wednesday 15 October 2014