Rebecca McLoughlin, Head of Supporter & Donor Relations, of the David Nott Foundation spoke to the Club about the Foundation.
To begin with, Rebecca emphasised the Foundation’s gratitude for the £10,000 received from the Club.
David Nott is a vascular and trauma surgeon, who for 25 years has helped to save lives that have been shattered in war zones. Rebecca explained that he was in Libya in 2011 and could see that they were in need of more surgeons, and that the situation was desperate. Over a conversation with his wife Elly, the idea of the David Nott Foundation was formed. Rebecca outlined that their mission was simple - 'we are dedicated to delivering the specialist training that surgeons need to save lives in countries affected by conflict and catastrophe'.
The Foundation provides surgical training for doctors and nurses who work in war and disaster areas, with courses focusing on life-saving surgical procedures, crucial in austere environments. The courses are run both overseas and in the UK. They are the Hostile Environment Surgical Training (HEST) and Surgical Training for Austere Environments (STAE). According to 'The Lancet', nearly 17 million people die every year through lack of access to surgical care - more than tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS combined.
The overseas courses are designed to deliver on the front
line, where doctors are unable to leave their posts. In the last
seven years, the Foundation has delivered 32 HEST courses - mostly in the Middle East and Africa, including Somaliland, Iraq and
Syria, but also in South America. The HEST course lasts for five days and focuses on a wide range of skills, including the treatment of gunshot wounds and carrying out vascular surgery. These are carried out with the help of 'Heston' - a bespoke full-body simulator and accurate model of the human body. The Foundation uses up-to-date technology, including a 3-D printer, and Virtual Reality headsets to replicate mass casualty situations, so that the
surgeons can learn to triage, which is critical for their training. But the trainers also use simple resources, e.g. a '3-lb sponge from Halfords' to replicate a liver.
During Covid, the courses had to go digital - weekly webinars with a network of doctors, in which people could ask in real time whatever they wanted to know. For Ukraine – within a week, David had condensed the five-day surgical training course and, together with Henry Marsh – a pioneer of neurosurgical advances in Ukraine and former Consultant Surgeon at St George’s Hospital - delivered a 12-
hour, comprehensive webinar to over 500 doctors in the
Ukraine. This was then condensed into manageable
chapters and translated into Ukrainian so that doctors could
access it on their phones.
The knowledge and techniques taught are shared and go on to improve the lives of whole communities for years to come, and feedback received from doctors shows how much they are
appreciated. Over the last seven years, the David Nott
Foundation has trained 908 doctors from 38 countries
on five-day courses, with enhanced knowledge in surgical skills provided by the charity, and is the only charity doing this work.
There are two main structures to the Foundation:
1. Inexperienced doctors, who are out of their comfort zone, are taught the right skills and techniques, and are able to make informed decisions in the conflict areas;
2. In the austere environments they may be the only doctor, so within their limited resources must become generalist doctors, as opposed to being specialists.
The talk by Rebecca was supplemented by slides - and a short video of the recent training in Hargeisa, Somaliland at the hospital there - indicating the vision of a global network of medical professionals, trained to the highest possible standards, providing
the best care to patients in war and natural disaster zones.