A delegation from George Eliot Hospital and public sector trade union, UNISON, returned last week from a visit to a Nicaraguan Hospital where they successfully signed the first stage of a twinning agreement to support one another - the first of its kind in the UK. They agreed to develop the relationship, first formed in the UK in 2014; to learn together, share expertise and improve the quality of health services for patients and staff.
The framework was signed between the George Eliot Hospital and Nilda Patricia Hospital in Cuidad-Sandino, Managua. The delegation comprised UNISON Deputy Convenor at George Eliot Hospital, Roy Emblen, Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Sebastian Yuen and International Officer, UNISON, Solihull Branch, Mark Glover.
Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Sebastian Yuen said: “This is groundbreaking work and we are honoured to be a part of such an inspirational agreement. I was impressed by the organisation of the health system in Nicaragua and in particular the comprehensive integration into the community. It was a fabulous learning experience and we are looking forward to building upon the partnerships established during the visit.”
“They still have many challenges. I was surprised there was no internet access or email in hospitals or health centres that people were still using typewriters.”
Unison representative, Roy Emblen said “Both Dr Yuen and I were most impressed with the Health teams and volunteers working together to promote health and infection prevention in their local communities. A shining example of what good teamwork can achieve. Healthcare is free, with over 50% of the population living on just $1 a day.”
A visit to the HQ of the Nicaraguan healthcare union, during the first day of the trip provided an overview of the country and its healthcare issues. Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Central America. Visits to a Children’s Hospital in Managua, Nilda Partricia Hospital, urban and rural health centres were included in the busy schedule. The group also visited a Maternity service “Casa Materna” where pregnant women are housed near the main hospital when they are close to giving birth.
One of the most interesting teams the group met included Brigadista’s (volunteers) who visited homes to eradicate mosquitoes, check immunisation of children and encourage local people to attend health outposts to be screened.
The group said despite some great work in Nicaragua they still need IT essentials and health equipment including XRay and Ultrasound, thermometers and nebulisers.
Human Resources Director, Dorothy Hogg said: “The next step is for our new Nicaraguan partners, Unison and the George Eliot Hospital to sign the full twinning partnership agreement when they visit in April”.
“We would like to thank everyone involved for making our team feel so welcome in Nicaragua and we hope we can share the learning in this new partnership.”
Thank you to UNISON West Midlands for sponsoring the exchange.