A student nurse, from Alnwick, has described an eye-opening trip to Cambodia as a ‘fantastic experience’.
Laura Warburton, 28, who specialises in learning disabilities, was one of 17 second-year Teesside University nursing students who made the journey to south-east Asian to experience its healthcare system first-hand.
Laura spent two weeks in Battambang Referral Hospital with the charity Transform Healthcare Cambodia.
The team delivered much-needed hospital equipment, worked alongside doctors and nurses in the hospital, and delivered teaching sessions – via translators – to Cambodian staff and students.
“Before my trip, I had read about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot which destroyed the Cambodian healthcare system, so I was interested to see how the country was recovering,” she said. “The hospital comprised lots of small one-level buildings and once the wards were full, patients would be put into beds outside in the hospital grounds, which, considering it was monsoon season, was very upsetting to see.
“I was interested to see that there was very little education around learning disabilities.
“Many of the staff were unaware that there were specific types of learning disability; they either thought someone was disabled or not disabled, and did not tailor healthcare to the individual’s specific needs.”
“It was a fantastic experience which I will never forget.
“The hospital and its staff do a brilliant job with the very limited resources they have.
“I feel so privileged to have our NHS. It has made me appreciate it even more now that I’ve seen what our lives could be like without it. I’d like to thank everybody that helped me to fund-raise for my trip.”
Graham Jones, senior lecturer in the department of health and social care at Teesside University, is also a director of Transform Healthcare Cambodia.
He said: “All of students had the opportunity to visit different areas such as the pediatrics, obstetrics, intensive care, medical and surgical wards. I was extremely pleased and very proud with the way each and every student conducted themselves during the visit, displaying; courtesy, cultural-awareness, knowledge and wonderful communication skills. They did themselves, the charity and the university proud.”