The Belford: an example of great quality rural healthcare

Dr Patrick Byrne, consultant at the Belford Hospital in Fort William, was involved in hosting a visit from a delegation from the Philipines.  This article featured in Lochaber Life Magazine earlier this month.  It has been reproduced here with the kind permission of Iain Ferguson of the Write Image (picture credits to Iain too).

PHILIPPINE VISITORS TO BELFORD

Dr Patrick Byrne

The Belford Hospital continues to punch above its weight on the national and international stage, welcoming a delegation from the Philippines a few weeks ago.  The visit was part of a week-long study tour to the UK by Presidents and delegates from the Philippine Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons, Paediatricians and Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, alongside officials from the Philippine Ministry of Health.

Teaching & training for most healthcare providers in the Philippines tends to be concentrated in the largest hospitals in cities, ignoring the district and rural locations.  This is in contrast to the UK where every hospital has a role to play and sometimes the best experiences and training is to be found in the smallest facilities, where one-to-one supervision from consultant teachers is often the norm, not the exception.  The purpose of their study tour was to learn from UK practices, specifically how supporting and investing in rural hospitals leads to a more efficient healthcare system across the region, and the country.

Led by the immediate Past President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Mr Ian Ritchie (who has family ties to Corpach), the delegates specifically requested to see an example of good training in a small hospital of approximately 100 beds.  Mr Ritchie replied, “I can bring you to a 34-bed hospital where training and patient care is not just good, but excellent”.  The importance of this visit, was underlined by the presence of the most senior NHSH personnel – Prof Elaine Mead (Chief Executive Officer), Mrs Gill McVicar MBE (Director of Operations) and Dr Emma Watson (Director of Medical Education).

Each, in turn, reiterated the importance of consultant-led services and training at Belford Hospital, both now and going forward. However, it was Miss Alison Bradley, a former Belford trainee, now a senior surgical registrar in Glasgow, who captivated and inspired everybody, proving that rurality is no impediment to ambition; quite the opposite, in fact, as she explained the details of her PhD research into pancreatic cancer.

Mr Ritchie said, “It was very clear to all who visited that numbers of beds is not an indicator of good training, it is that key relationship between a trainer and a trainee which, in Fort William, you all demonstrate to a very high degree.  The high point was certainly the Belford.”  In her letter of thanks, on behalf of the College of Paediatrics, Dr Cynthia Daniel echoed this, adding “I am certain with you and the rest who share the same passion for training and service, Belford Hospital should be safe for the next 150 years and beyond”.

Comments are closed.