Three eye doctors from Epsom and St Helier hospitals have shown outstanding dedication to their profession, using their holiday time to travel to Myanmar to provide ocular healthcare to over 800 patients from the developing country’s rural Sagaing region.
Mr Steve Harsum and Mr Paul Ursell along with Mr Peter Fison who recently retired from the Trust, worked closely with the prestigious Sitagu Association, a monastic Buddhist charity founded and lead by the Venerable Sitagu Sayadaw, one of the most prominent Buddhist leaders in Myanmar and the rest of the South East Asia region.
The Venerable Sitagu Sayadaw celebrated his seventy-eighth birthday during the consultants’ trip, honouring the doctors by inviting them to his birthday celebrations to commemorate their work which included seeing 804 patients in clinic, performing 135 major eye surgeries and 33 laser procedures over 7 days.
Mr Steve Harsum said he was delighted to have worked with the organisation to provide care for the people of Sagaing:
“The sort of procedures we carried out in Sagaing are everyday work for eye doctors in the UK and the rest of the West, but in the more rural areas of developing countries like Myanmar, they can be completely life-changing.”
Mr Paul Ursell said he was proud of the group’s achievement over such a short space of time:
“It’s been a pleasure to work with Mr Harsum and Mr Fison to provide care to people who would have otherwise not had access to the medical attention they required. Our hospitals are expanding their capacity to deliver outstanding ocular healthcare so it’s also great feeling to have represented our colleagues on an international level.”
Epsom Hospital has recently bolstered its range of services with the launch of a brand new eye unit with state-of-the-art equipment and modern fixtures and fittings throughout. The development is part of plans to move all eye care services from Sutton Hospital to Epsom and St Helier Hospitals. The second unit, which will be based at St Helier Hospital, will be open by the end of June.
Ruth Charlton, Joint Medical Director, said that the consultants’ trip to Myanmar was a source of pride for the Trust:
“Compassion and commitment are at the heart of all of our work, so it’s fantastic to see members of our teams living these values both inside and outside of their working hours. It’s a privilege to work alongside such dedicated professionals who are a credit to our new eye units.
“We are very excited about the development of both of our new eye units and we are pleased to be offering fantastic new facilities for our patients at Epsom with immediate effect and additionally from St Helier Hospital from the end of June. Both of the units represent a major investment and will be a huge improvement in terms of the environment for our patients. It will allow care to be delivered closer to home for many patients.”
The Sitagu Association is a school of Theravada Buddhism, established in 1980 as an organisation dedicated to striving for the welfare of all people without regard to caste, race, nationality or creed.