Our medics do incredible things, and our work is only made possible thanks to them. Our register is made up of more than 1000 NHS and international doctors, nurses, paramedics, logisticians and other professionals ready to respond to emergencies around the world, from Ukraine to Samoa.
They are highly skilled in their field and receive intensive training in humanitarian responses, so they are ready to deploy to whatever the next emergency may be. We are on call 24/7 365 days a year, always ready to get help where it’s needed most.
This Meet the Medics series celebrates some of the dedicated staff that work with UK-Med, to give you an insight into the people behind the responses.
Dr Freda Newlands
Introduce yourself and your role at UK-Med
My name is Dr Freda Newlands, I am an doctor in Emergency Medicine who has deployed several times with UK-Med in response to a disease outbreak, natural disaster or conflict. Previously I was a full-time employee with UK-Med in the role as Health Manager for the UK-EMT.
What does an average day look like for you
An average day when I was in Ukraine involved an early start, driving to a remote rural location to set up a mobile primary care clinic. Alongside a nurse, we would set up our basic equipment and prepare to see patients. Usually there would be a queue of maybe 20 patients sitting in the corridor of the school or hall where we were. Our wonderful interpreter helped us to listen to the horrific stories from our patients, telling us of their plight when their villages had been occupied earlier in the war. Their medical presentations were usually not entirely physical, the impact on their mental health was unimaginable. After we had seen all the patients, the clinic staff, so grateful for our presence, would give us a wonderful meal of home–made cakes and local specialities. It was very humbling to have people from the village giving us their food when they were the ones in need.
Why is humanitarian work important to you
Humanitarian work is very important to me as I feel that I can provide some support to the host nation’s health system. Usually when I deploy, a health system has been taken down or is deeply under resourced with not enough clinicians and equipment. It is about providing support and enablement, sharing our expertise and experience thus empowering the local teams to be able to continue care. It is about giving back.
King Charles presenting Freda with the Who Cares Wins Best Doctor award
What’s been your most memorable experience
My most memorable experience was working in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. With UK-Med and the UK-EMT, I was working in a diphtheria treatment centre treating Rohingya from neighbouring Myanmar who had fled their country. Unfortunately, there was a deadly outbreak of diphtheria which overwhelmed the existing agencies. We were able to go out to help.
My greatest achievement was being awarded the Who Cares Wins Best Doctor award in recognition of my work in the humanitarian sector.
Why is it important to be in Ukraine at Christmas
Christmas in Ukraine will have the constant threat of shelling and missile attacks on homes, freezing cold temperatures, potentially with power blackouts and ongoing shortages in medical care, medicines and other consumables. Being in Ukraine at Christmas, UK-Med will be able to continue to provide care where needed, first aid training, and surgical support to those both directly and indirectly affected by the war.