The KGH nurse who's helped fight Ebola, diphtheria and Covid abroad
and live on Freeview channel 276
When Covid arrived in the UK in 2020 it was the first time some NHS staff had to deal with a deadly outbreak.
But at KGH senior A&E nurse Mandy Blackman was able to draw on past experience, having helped fight Ebola in Sierra Leone and diphtheria in Bangladesh.
The advanced clinical practitioner says battling other diseases and infections overseas helped her fight Covid closer to home - and she then used her skills to help Botswana in their own fight against the virus.
She's opened up about the importance of her experiences on the international emergency frontline this week on behalf of medical aid charity UK-Med, which has published a report on the skills NHS staff develop from working in emergency responses.
She said: “During Covid I was seconded into the emergency planning preparedness resilience and response team for my hospital.
"My experience on international responses helped me with the planning of staff training, mask fitting, PPE and patient flow around the hospital but also planning for staff mindfulness and wellbeing as I knew we needed to be looking ahead for when the wave ended."
In 2015 Mandy travelled to Africa and provided nursing care at an Ebola treatment centre in Kerry Town, in Sierra Leone, with UK-Med.
She was involved in setting up a survivor’s clinic to ensure recovering patients had access to the correct diet, household goods and finances needed for them to access future treatment.
She said: “Some of the Sierra Leonean support staff I was working with were themselves Ebola survivors which was very powerful.
"They helped me to understand the difficulties and challenges the patients I was dealing with were facing.
"I learned a lot about myself in Sierra Leone.”
In 2017 Mandy went to Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh to support a diphtheria response in a Rohingya refugee camp.
And in September last year, having helped on the frontline at KGH, she returned from Botswana after six weeks supporting the country’s fight against Covid-19.
Mandy was part of a team of ten UK-Med medics and was training doctors and nurses in the capital city of Gaborone to support seriously and critically-ill patients with Covid.
She said: "I worked with two shift coordinators, equivalent to our nursing sisters.
"A lot of it was about advocating for them, empowering them, boosting their confidence and resilience and reassuring them that they could do this."
A KGH spokesman said: "Well done Mandy for all of your brave and selfless work at both KGH and abroad."
Professor Tony Redmond, chairman of UK-Med, added: "The recent pandemic has shown just how quickly disease can spread and how our NHS must be trained and prepared for any eventuality.
"Experience gained in disasters and outbreaks by NHS staff fortifies our defences and increases our resilience. A global Britain needs global experience."