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VICTORIA NURSE AT MALAWI CONFERENCE

November 02, 2005 11:45 AM

A Victoria Infirmary clinical nurse specialist, who has recently returned from Malawi, is a delegate to a special conference being held at the Scottish Parliament this week, focussing on the poverty stricken country.

Beverley Wellington (46), from Strathaven, specialises in orthopaedics, and she was invited to spend two weeks in the African country training other nurses and also work in two hospitals in Blantyre, the capital city, named after the birthplace of Scottish missionary David Livingstone.

Her work has won Beverley this year's Radio Clyde "Unsung Hero" award, and led to her invitation to the Malawi conference being hosted by First Minister Jack McConnell at Holyrood, on Friday and Saturday this week.

She previously attended a reception in Edinburgh earlier this year, celebrating the Scotland-Malawi link, also attended by the First Minister.

Beverley, who began her nursing career in the Victoria Infirmary's accident and emergency department before deciding to specialise in orthopaedics in 1983, said that she was "appalled" at the conditions at the government hospital, called the Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre, where anaesthetic supplies would regularly run out.

She said: "I was absolutely appalled at the state of that hospital. It was very ramshackle and there were 70 patients in a ward with only one nurse.

"Sheets and mattresses were torn and it was quite concerning to see patients lying in these degrading conditions.

"The week before we arrived the hospital had run out of dressings and while we were there they had run out of anaesthetic gas.

"They were just dreadful circumstances."

Basic hygiene and drugs were also in short supply, and nurses were trained up to a very basic level.

Conditions were better in the second hospital, built by American charity Cure International, which specialises in building hospitals in third world countries.

Orthopaedics is an important speciality in Malawi where many children are born with congenital abnormalities and anti-natal services are scarce.

The high number of road traffic accidents also adds to the demand for orthopaedics skills.

Beverley went on: "Working there was like turning the clock back 20 years.

"There was no point in teaching the staff 21st century western hospital ward methods.

"We had to look at what they could do with the resources they had, it was a real challenge."

Despite all the difficulties and shortages Beverley praised the motivation of the hospital staff and the warmth of the Malawi people.

She has accepted an invitation to return in May next year, to carry out more training,

Ends

Notes to editors

Beverley has photographs from her trip to Malawi and is also appealing for donations from local companies for the resourced-starved hospital.

For more information contact Susan Carden, Communications Officer, NHS Greater Glasgow, tel. 0141 305 0305/201 4429.

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