A recent article in BMJ Careers highlighted the launch of NHS Links (careerfocus.bmjjournals.com
THET produced this excellent handbook to coincide with the launch. It contains the information you need to establish such a link. A foreword by Sir Nigel Crisp, chief executive for the NHS (England), commends and encourages the involvement of NHS staff in such work.
A fundamental principle behind every link, described in the introduction, is 'to respond to the requests, and work towards the goals, of those responsible for healthcare' in the overseas situation. The writer points out how a link based in a NHS Trust can be far more effective in the longer term than the work of a single individual, but goes on to emphasise that 'long term institutional involvement and commitment are necessary on both sides of the link'.
The booklet describes the benefits to the UK institution, the individual and the overseas hospital and gives practical advice on how to make a success of a link. It lists action points to follow through and includes thumbnail sketches of those who have already established successful links. There are sample job descriptions for a Link Co-ordinator; examples of presentations to inspire your board and bring them onside; points to consider when preparing to go on an overseas trip and in preparing to receive someone from overseas visiting your hospital, together with tips on fundraising, budgeting, booking flights etc.
For those who could get excited about the possibility of making a worthwhile contribution to overseas healthcare, while continuing to work in the NHS, this booklet is a must. It contains a wealth of practical detail with little left to the imagination. Once you have read it, you will have no excuse not to get involved!