Our Mandy's fight against Ebola, Diphtheria and COVID-19

February 2 2022 ED nurse Mandy Blackman training staff Botswana

‘Fighting Ebola, diphtheria and COVID-19 overseas has helped me fight COVID back home’ ….says a senior KGH A&E nurse

Advanced Clinical Practitioner Mandy Blackman has been talking with the media about her experiences on the international emergency front line on behalf of medical aid charity UK-Med.

The charity has published a report which demonstrates the important skills NHS staff develop from working in emergency responses.

Mandy is a prime example after working in an Ebola Treatment Centre in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, in 2015, supporting a diphtheria response in the Rohingya refugee camp at Cox Bazar, Bangladesh, in 2017 and most recently supporting the fight against COVID-19 in Botswana in autumn 2021.

Her comments come as a new report:  Global health responders – a shot in the arm for the NHS, is released by frontline medical aid charity UK-Med, which highlights how doctors and nurses who’ve returned from disaster zones and emergency responses bring vital skills and experience back to the NHS. 

At KGH Mandy used her skills as part of our Emergency Planning Preparedness Resilience and Response team as we prepared for COVID.

She was involved with planning staff training, mask fitting, PPE, patient flow around the hospital, and planning for support for staff mindfulness and wellbeing during the COVID waves.

In Botswana Mandy, 53, spent six weeks as part of a team of ten UK-Med medics on behalf of the UK Emergency Medical Team. 

She was training doctors and nurses in the capital city of Gaborone to support seriously and critically ill patients with COVID-19. 

She said: “I worked with two shift coordinators, equivalent to our nursing sisters.  A lot of it was about advocating for them, empowering them, boosting their confidence and resilience and reassuring them that they could do this.”

In Sierra Leone she was involved in setting up a survivors’ clinic to ensure recovering patients had access to the correct diet, household goods and finances needed for them to access future treatment.  

She said: “Some of the Sierra Leonian support staff I was working with were themselves Ebola survivors themselves which was very powerful.  They helped me to understand the difficulties and challenges the patients I was dealing with were facing.  I learned a lot about myself in Sierra Leone.”

UK-Med’s Global health responders report, draws out the many benefits returning clinicians from emergency medical responses have brought back to the NHS.  Between 83-98% of respondents reported improvements in their clinical skills, resilience, well-being, and the ability to provide better patient experiences. 

Professor Tony Redmond OBE, Medical Director for the Nightingale North-West and Chair of frontline medical aid charity UK-Med, summarises the importance of the report’s findings:

“There is no health without global health.  The recent pandemic has shown just how quickly disease can spread and how our NHS must be trained and prepared for any eventuality.  Experience gained in disasters and outbreaks by NHS staff fortifies our defences and increases our resilience.  A global Britain needs Global Experience.” 



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