Sick children’s nurse travels to Cambodia to improve health of vulnerable children

Sue Higgins Cambodia
Sick children’s nurse travels to Cambodia to improve health of vulnerable children
25 May 2016

A REGISTERED Sick Children’s Nurse (RSCN), Sister Sue Higgins, from North Manchester General Hospital, has travelled to Cambodia this week as part of a shared learning partnership.

Sister Higgins is teaching Cambodian health workers the benefits of baby massage, assisting in the health centre clinics and undertaking outreach medical visits with Professor Andrew Rowland.

Sister Sue Higgins’s trip is part of a three year partnership set up last year between The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, the University of Salford and M’Lop Tapang, a Cambodian non-profit organisation that works with over 5000 children and families living on and around the streets and beaches of Sihanoukville in Cambodia.

Sister Higgins already participates in monthly Skype clinics, where knowledge is exchanged between the three organisations, along with Professor Rowland, the project founder and Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine at North Manchester General Hospital.

As well as teaching baby massage technique (which can encourage bonding between a parent and baby) in areas where drug abuse amongst mothers can be a problem, Sister Higgins is advising Cambodian health workers about triage assessment skills and is working with Professor Rowland in his medical clinics in Sihanoukville.

As part of the knowledge exchange trip, Sister Higgins will learn more about the risks faced by children and young people living on and around the streets and beaches of Southern Cambodia as well as about how Cambodian health workers safeguard vulnerable children, an area they excel in. She will then put this into practice at North Manchester General Hospital and share her learning with her colleagues at the Trust and University.

The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages North Manchester General Hospital, The Royal Oldham Hospital, Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, Rochdale Infirmary and community services, has granted Sister Higgins ‘Special Leave’ to travel to Cambodia.

Sister Higgins’ flight has been paid for with a combination of donated funds, able to be used for this purpose, and a grant from SicKids charity.

Sister Sue Higgins, from the Children’s Emergency Department at North Manchester General Hospital said:

“I have been an RSCN since 1987 and have worked in several different areas of paediatrics. In every area, regardless of the nursing skills required, a knowledge of safeguarding vulnerable children has always been essential to underpin these skills. As I have gained more experience I feel that I have become more skilled at assessing different situations, however I genuinely feel that being exposed to how a different culture approaches safeguarding vulnerable children can only be beneficial to my work and to the Trust.”

It is now over one year since the launch of the partnership in March 2015, and Professor Rowland says it is going from strength to strength.

Professor Andrew Rowland, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine at North Manchester General Hospital, Honorary Professor at the University of Salford and a Churchill Fellow of The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust said:

“Children’s asthma care in the Sihanoukville region of Cambodia is now significantly better than before this partnership began and the Skype clinics have been an excellent way of providing clinical care to children and young people remotely as well as in developing professional skills within both teams. Together with Salford University we hope to introduce a ChildSafe scheme here in the UK. Plans are progressing well, based on a Cambodian model, and I hope to make a further announcement about this over the coming months. As the partnership continues to develop I would like to be able to take different professionals over to Sihanoukville including, for example, a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, pharmacist and play specialist. We are continuing to share our own knowledge and bring back different skills with us.

“We have also assisted in setting up robust medical guidelines to use in Sihanoukville, such as how to treat children with asthma. These guidelines have been incredibly well received by the team in Cambodia and have been written in conjunction with them.

“In the near future we hope to be able to raise funds to sponsor a health professional from Sihanoukville to come and join us for two weeks in the Children’s Emergency Department at North Manchester General Hospital so they can see firsthand how we work in our Emergency Department and so that bilateral knowledge sharing can continue”..

Professor Rowland is optimistic that the partnership will continue past the original planned three year term.

If you would like to make a donation to the project you can either donate via SicKids charity (www.sickids.co.uk) or by sending a cheque made payable to the Paediatric Emergency Medicine Fund to Professor Andrew Rowland, Emergency Department, North Manchester General Hospital, Delaunays Road, Manchester, M8 5RB. You should clearly mark any donation “Cambodia.”

Pictured: Sister Sue Higgins, from the Children’s Emergency Department at North Manchester General Hospital

NOTES TO EDITORS

SicKids

SicKids is a children’s health charity currently working in North West England and Cambodia. It believes every child deserves the right to grow up healthy, and safe from abuse, exploitation and trafficking. SicKids aims to provide and assist in the provision of facilities, support services and equipment not normally provided by local authorities. It also promotes research in all aspects of safeguarding vulnerable children and children’s emergency medicine. Established in 2015, SicKids is a charity registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Registration number: 1164131). Find out more at www.SicKids.co.uk and follow @SicKidsUK on Twitter.

http://www.sickids.co.uk/