Edna Adan visits The Ashford and St Peters Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the meeting arranged by Anglo Somaliland Resources is likely to lead to a twining partnership between Ashford and St Peters Hospital and the Edna Adan University Hospital in Hargeisa which will be an historic ground-breaking partnership where both hospitals share information, experiences and resources.
Compassion is the key to care
Sharing experiences and learning from others lies at the heart of good healthcare delivery, and in today’s world we are doing this more and more at an international level. Every now and then, as we talk about how tough life can be in the NHS, we have cause to reflect on how lucky we actually are to have a modern healthcare system – one of the most highly regarded in the world – that is free at the point of delivery.
Earlier today I was delighted to join colleagues Heather Caudle, Russell Wernham and our Deputy Chairman Prof Philip Beesley in welcoming a very special visitor to St Peter’s Hospital, Edna Adan, a pioneering nurse and midwife from Somaliland who originally trained at Borough Polytechnic (now London South Bank University). Edna is the director and founder of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland, and an activist and pioneer in the struggle for the abolition of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Our connection with Edna came via John Blackburn, Team Leader from the transport department at Ashford Hospital who is a close friend of Ian Fenwick from Anglo Somaliland Resources who works closely with her. Edna (and her rather impressive entourage including Ali Aden Awale the Somaliland UK Ambassador and a small crew from Somaliland National TV) were given a tour of our maternity department. Edna then spent part of the afternoon chatting to midwives and staff on Labour and Joan Booker wards, before giving a talk to a wider group of midwifery and obstetric colleagues along with colleagues from other Trusts.
Edna spoke passionately on the subject of FGM and her fight against it; you’ll know that this has been the subject of much media attention recently. Last Saturday marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM with an incredible 200 million women at least estimated to be affected worldwide. Now that hospitals in England are obligated to report cases of FGM, it’s a shocking picture here too – over 1000 new cases were reported over a 6 month period last year – and of course these are only the cases that we see in hospital. Edna’s talk provoked a lot of emotion and discussion. My reflection on what I heard was that although our two healthcare systems are very different in terms of resources, infrastructure and the numbers of professionally trained healthcare workers, the fundamental truth is that the best care and treatment comes from the heart. Working out how to be compassionate in the face of the very real but different pressures we experience is the key to success.
A reminder of the importance of compassion, today’s visit highlighted a key element in our #RightCulture programme – my thanks to everyone who made today possible.
In a difficult week for some important and valued members of the team, let’s all remember that whatever our relative positions, feelings or thoughts, being kind to one another and trying to understand different perspectives is and will always be very important.
With very best wishes,