City doctors pioneer video library to train anaesthetists in developing world

Dr Oliver Ross and HRH the Princess RoyalDoctors at Southampton’s teaching hospitals have created a pioneering video library to help train anaesthetists in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The resource, developed by the department of anaesthesia and the learning support team at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, contains 30 videos for use as an educational tool for beginners or a refresher course for practising anaesthetists.

Initially designed as part of the Trust’s ongoing overseas link with Nepal, which launched in 2007 to improve skills, training methods and facilities in the country, it is now being used in hospitals across Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi.

Among the footage, filmed during procedures in Southampton and at Tansen Mission Hospital in Nepal, are scenes demonstrating spinal anaesthesia, intubation and extubation, caesarean sections and the use of general anaesthetic ketamine.

The brainchild of Dr Oliver Ross, a consultant anaesthetist at Southampton General Hospital and founder of Southampton Overseas Health and Medicine (SOHMED), the innovation has proved so effective it has been incorporated into a wider international e-learning package by the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) and e-Learning for Healthcare.

“It really is credit to the dedicated and passionate clinicians working here in Southampton that we have created such a vital and respected support tool for anaesthetists in training across the world,” said Dr Ross.

In Nepal, a shortage of medically-qualified anaesthetists, particularly in rural areas outside the capital Kathmandu, means patients – predominantly women in labour – are vulnerable when an emergency arises.

Although the gap is currently filled by small numbers of isolated nurse anaesthetists, they are reliant on educational and clinical support.

“For far too long, anaesthesia has been a neglected specialty worldwide and Nepal is an example of that, with a severe shortage of anaesthetists – 0.3 per 100,000 compared to 17 per 100,000 in the UK,” explained Dr Ross, who last year took an unpaid sabbatical from UHS to spend six months training staff in the South Asian country.

He added: “This situation is similar in many poor countries around the world and places patients at real risk of serious complications during childbirth and surgery, so tackling this in Nepal is a step towards better overall standards and begins to address the issue of appallingly high maternal mortality rates that persist worldwide.”

Dr Ross presented the video library project, which was funded by AAGBI, the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) and Professor Mike Grocott’s Caudwell Xtreme Everest group, to HRH the Princess Royal at a meeting of the RCoA last week.

Posted on Wednesday 8 May 2013