The BSH Global Haematology Special Interest Group (SIG) was created to bring together specialists with experience and interest in haematology issues in low- and middle-income countries.
The SIG aims to create a community with expertise and commitment to making a valuable contribution to BSH’s global activities. Ultimately benefiting haematology practice within the UK and worldwide.
Chair: Professor Imelda Bates
Vice-Chair: Dr Megan Kell
Trustee link: Dr Josh Wright
Join the Global Haematology Special Interest Group.
The SIG welcomes both members and non-members of the BSH and is free to join.
Please note you will need to log in or create a website account to join a SIG.
Virtual CPD talks
We have introduced an online series of free CPD talks for our haematology colleagues internationally. The topics for the talks have been selected based on requests from some of our international colleagues.
These one-hour long talks will take place every two months at noon UK time on a Friday to cater for different time zones and working patterns across the globe. They will be delivered via Zoom. The talks will be bookable via our events page.
All talks will be recorded, and the videos will be available for 12 months.
The Global Haematology Special Interest Group held a one-day workshop in London on 20 June 2023 with the theme of ‘equitable partnerships’. The workshop aimed to discuss and promote mutual learning and collaborative partnerships between haematology professionals in the UK and the Global South.
The workshop was attended by 25 participants, including nursing, science, pharmacy and medical professionals from the UK, Nigeria and Kenya, with virtual participation from colleagues in Malawi, Ghana and Iraq.
It started by highlighting the work of some of the SIG’s taskforces - the Health Volunteers Overseas scheme, the two-monthly webinar CPD programme and the Global Speakers scheme - and also solicited inputs to global haematology aspects of the new BSH three-year strategy.
The main session consisted of joint presentations by colleagues from the Global South and the UK. It covered inspiring examples of a range of partnerships, from high-level organisational and institutional collaborations to one-to-one relationships.
Dr Ahmed Yassin and Dr Maadh Aldouri described their partnership among several UK-based Iraqi colleagues working through the RCPath to build haematology training and pathology capacity alongside establishing examination centres in Kurdistan. This partnership highlighted how gaining the support of national policymakers through advocacy and data is crucial and is an excellent example of the important role the UK diaspora can play in global health.
Maggie Mphande, Netsayi Gowero and Diana De discussed a partnership between universities in Malawi and Cardiff focused on haemoglobinopathy education using novel pedagogical tools. Embedding these into training curricula for health professionals in Malawi resulted in improved clinical care and health worker knowledge, as well as demonstrating the benefits of cross-cultural collaborative learning.
Dr Lucy Asamoah-Akuoko and Professor Imelda Bates described how they had built a strong relationship over many years, developing from supervising and mentoring into an equitable partnership. It has resulted in the consolidation of research and expertise within the transfusion services in Ghana and changes to approaches for recruiting and retaining blood donors. Lucy has developed into a national leader and influencer for blood services policy and practice.
Finally, Dr Livingstone Dogara and Professor Baba Inusa discussed the development of a newborn screening programme for sickle cell disease in Kaduna state, Nigeria, to improve awareness and education, strengthen laboratory services and enhance patient care. Their ongoing multi-country African Research and Innovative Initiative for sickle cell education supports mentoring and training alongside direct laboratory input.
Key learning points around the development of equitable, durable partnerships included the need for a shared vision, maintaining integrity and mutual respect, effective and open communication, fostering two-way learning, and ensuring efforts align with national priorities.
We would like to thank the BSH staff for their support in organising this event.
It is widely recognised that developing countries reap significant benefits from the volunteering efforts of NHS staff. Often overlooked are the new skills which volunteers gain through their experiences and which could be utilised within the NHS. These include: improving staff morale, enhancing staff leadership skills and learning how to work with limited equipment, weak management systems and insufficient money. Ultimately, if properly utilised, these skills and experiences could significantly impact on UK health systems and the care that NHS staff provide.
Over the last few years there has been a large increase in NHS staff undertaking volunteering activities. This is strongly endorsed by UK government policies and budgets - the Department for International Development have committed £14 million for 200 health international volunteering partnerships. “The skills developed through volunteering in a link are considered valuable skills for NHS employees according to numerous professional development frameworks”3.
Independent volunteering and volunteer programmes enable NHS employees to experience LMIC cultures and health systems which are very different from those in the UK. The resulting enhanced cultural awareness and sensitivity, better appreciation of the cost of resources and creative ways of optimising their use, and the ability to strategize and take decisions with minimal infrastructural and system support means that volunteers bring back skills which are critically important for the NHS and which will ultimately lead to better patient care. At organisational and national levels, volunteer programmes can benefit the NHS through a more motivated workforce, a better understanding of patient and staff needs, improved strategy development, increased knowledge about pathologies uncommon in the UK and better management and policy-making skills3 8.
Benefits can be considered at individual, institutional and national level and have been assigned to seven categories; clinical skills, management skills, communication and teamwork, patient experience and dignity, policy and academic skills3. In addition to improving health in poorer countries, the APPG review4 themed the benefits of volunteering for the UK into three domains – leadership development, sharing innovation and international recognition of NHS – all of which contribute to improved services and patient care:
Leadership development, particularly communication, self-knowledge, ingenuity and adaptability, is one of the most important gains of volunteering. Encouraging and equipping NHS staff to take on more leadership and management responsibility is also a central tenet of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Returning volunteers are highly motivated with a rejuvenated work ethic and renewed vocation for the NHS4.
Several NHS trusts have reported gaining new knowledge and ideas through volunteering schemes including new tools for patient treatment and better integrated working. Other benefits have been described in the areas of workforce development, technology, financing and governance1.
International recognition of NHS institutions
Promoting the profile of UK health facilities overseas gives them a competitive advantage by making them appear innovative and outward looking and helping them to improve recruitment and retention of the highest calibre staff9. The downside is that poorly executed overseas activities risk reputational damage which will extend beyond those immediately responsible.
- Syed S, Dadwal V, Rutter P, Storr J, Hightower J, Gooden R, et al. Developed-developing country partnerships: Benefits to developed countries? Globalization and Health 2012;8(17).
- Jones FAE, Knights DPH, Sinclair VFE, Baraitser P. Do health partnerships with organisations in lower income countries benefit the UK partner? A review of the literature. Globalization and Health 2013;9:38.
- All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health. Improving Health at Home and Abroad: How overseas volunteering from the NHS benefits the UK and the world; 2013.
- Welsh Assembly Government. Volunteering for Health: Report on the findings of research into the impact of volunteers working in health care settings; 2004.
- McBain C, Jones A. Employer supported volunteering - the guide: Volunteering England; 2005.