‘Our girl’ Alice to be honoured for nursing trip to Kenya

CPFT nurse - who is also an Army Reserve - was part of operation to help thousands in Africa

‘Our girl’ Alice to be honoured for nursing trip to Kenya
26 June 2018

Community nurse Alice Pickford has returned to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust after spending two months with the British Army providing care to people of Kenya.

Alice, who is an Army reservist with 254 Medical Regiment will be among a number of other reservists who will be recognised for their work at a special reception at the House of Commons next week.

The 27-year-old corporal, who works for CPFT’s St Ives Neighbourhood Team which provides community care for older people and those living with long-term medical conditions, said: "Going to Kenya was incredible. I absolutely loved it. We never knew what to expect or who might attend for treatment. It's an experience I won't forget."

Alice was one of 200 soldiers who flew out to Nairobi in April as part of the humanitarian exercise working alongside Kenyan medics and soldiers.

Led by 2 Medical Regiment, Alice worked within a Remote Area Treatment Team (RATT) of 20 soldiers who set up outreach clinics in some of the most inaccessible and remote areas. Two other similar RATTs operated elsewhere in the country.

She said: “The clinics would sometimes be set up inside schools or other buildings, but most of the time buildings wouldn’t be available so we would set up tents to treat people. We would set up a pharmacy, an area for dentistry, and trauma bays.

“After two treatment days, the tents would all be packed away and then we would travel for a day, and then set up again in the next location.

“For a lot of the Army medics this was their first exercise working with patients since their training. So part of my role was to use my nursing skills and experience to supervise them as they treated people.

“Information would be distributed to local people via translators and village chiefs but you would never know how big the queues of people waiting for treatment would be.

“Many of them had not had healthcare for many years and we never knew what to expect, but often we would see people with skin infections, sexually transmitted diseases and chest infections. We also saw people with snake bites and infected wounds.

“In one case, a pregnant woman was rushed in to see us. She had been carried to the clinic by some Massai Warriors because she had pre-eclampsia. We provided her with initial treatment to stabilise her then arranged for her to be transferred to the nearest hospital, which was still many miles away, but she got the help she needed and we later found out she had survived.”

By the end of their two-month deployment, the three treatment teams had covered 33,000 miles and treated more 4,000 people.

Alice, who became a reserve almost four years ago whilst studying nursing at university, said: “It was dangerous at times in terms of both occupational hazards and the environment itself. There were some reports of shootings and stabbings in the areas we visited and we were also transporting expensive medical equipment. We had to keep our wits about us, but because we were providing medical care and we wear the Red Cross we are not allowed to carry a weapon, so the Kenyan soldiers were alongside to protect us. Overall, it’s something I will not forget and my nursing training and my training in the Army served me well.”

Lyn Taylor, manager of CPFT’s St Ives Neighbourhood Team, (pictured above with Alice) said: “We are so proud of Alice. What she did was wonderful. For her, and her colleagues, to have helped so many people is a very worthwhile and important achievement.”

Lyn will accompany Alice at the House of Commons when she represents her regiment at an event to mark Reserves Day which has been organised by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson on Wednesday, 27 June.


ENDS

For more information please contact:

Andy Burrows
Media and Marketing Manager
E andy.burrows@cpft.nhs.uk
T 01223 219467

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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