September 25, 2008

Hospital Staff ‘in Africa on Own Time’

Health chiefs have insisted Derriford Hospital staff performing hernia operations in Africa are doing so in their own time.

Doctors and nurses involved with the charitable Operation Hernia mission are also funding their trip themselves.

The clarification came after an official complaint was lodged with the hospital by the family of a hernia patient who has been waiting for an operation since May.

The Herald revealed details of the mercy mission to Sekondi- Takoradi earlier this month.

Questions were then asked about how the NHS could cope with the loss of two consultant surgeons, an anaesthetist, other doctors, nurses, and a 40-tonne container of supplies during October and November.

But the hospital has insisted staff taking part are doing so as part of their annual leave.

A spokesperson said: "The first group will be away two weeks and the second 10 days. No member of staff will be away for longer than two weeks.

"As with all annual leave, the clinical rota is adjusted to accommodate absences so waiting lists and surgery run as planned. Staff will be funding their part in this humanitarian mission out of their own pocket. No NHS funds are involved.

"Equipment used is redundant medical equipment and no longer fit for purpose in this country."

The team is led by Derriford Hospital's Professor Andrew Kingsnorth, president of the European Hernia Society, and consultant Chris Oppong, a Ghanaian.

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