A team of NHS staff from the North East and beyond have shared their skills to train up fellow healthcare staff in India.

Led by Dr Sanjay Deshpande, a consultant anaesthetist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust (STSFT), the group of 20 healthcare professionals spent a week at the Walawalkar Hospital in Dervan, on India’s west coast.

Doctors, nurses, operating theatre practitioners, a sonographer and support staff all came together for the visit.

It was the 18th mission made by the volunteers, comprising of specialists in radiology, a sonographer, urology, anaesthesia, surgery and dentistry, and for the first time, experts in mental health.

The NHS staff in the team work for STSFT, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Kingston NHS Foundation Trust.

The trips are organised by the SVJC Trust charity, which is led by Dr Deshpande after he was inspired by his late mother, Leela.

The mission of SVJC is to help people in that area of his home country with food, water, clothing, shelter and education, as well as providing vital medical aid for whoever needs it.

The work continued during the pandemic, with education sessions set up online, but last year and this made a full visit to the hospital.

The visiting team led a series of education sessions and worked alongside its staff to deliver care.

Dr Deshpande said: “I came up with the idea for the annual medical visit after witnessing the struggles of Walawalkar staff in deprived circumstances.

“Sharing what we have learned really motivates us.

“Our aim is to support and educate Walawalkar staff, enabling them to deliver enhanced health care services to the economically deprived local community.

“There was a lot of emphasis this year on the educational aspect of our visit.

“We taught them how to perform procedures and it was truly amazing to witness the sense of empowerment and fulfilment when they were able to reproduce the skills themselves.

“There is always a lot to gain from teaching and we, in turn, learn a great deal.”

Plans are already been made for next year’s visit. Any NHS colleagues who would like to find out more can contact Dr Deshpande via the Trust’s Anaesthetic Department on 0191 202 4046.

To find out more about the SVJC Trust visit www.svjctrust.co.uk.