Published Tuesday 4th July 2017

A staff nurse at St Michael’s Hospice swapped Herefordshire for a remote part of Northern India to see how the palliative care team he helped train up is getting on.

Andrew Cox spent three weeks in the Utraula district, close to the Nepalese border.

It had been more than two-and-a-half years since he was last there when he worked alongside healthcare professionals at the Prem Sewa Hospital to teach them best palliative care practice from his experience at St Michael’s.

‘It’s about providing good basic palliative care,’ said Andrew.

‘The team has seen over 450 patients, with 85 on their books at the moment, covering an area with a population of four-and-a-half million.’

In the wider area, there are five hospitals providing palliative care to around 200 million people.

Andrew spent much of his trip travelling among the sugar cane and rice fields in the community, accompanying the four-strong medical team as they visit patients in their homes.

‘It was a really worthwhile trip,’ Andrew added.

‘We get to make a big difference to people’s lives.

‘They are so welcoming. They’re really lovely.

‘We set up the palliative care team last time I was out here. There was nothing like that beforehand.

‘Oral cancer is a big problem over there, largely because of poor dental hygiene and, also because it is common for men and women to chew tobacco.’

Prem Sewa Hospital is part of the Emmanuel Hospital Association.

The Association says an estimated six million people need palliative care in India each year, but less than 1% have access to it.