Pennine Care shares expertise internationally

Health and education professionals from Belarus visited services run by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust to learn more about community-based care and treatment of children with complex long-term health conditions.Belarus visit to Pennine Care

Pennine Care welcomed the visitors as part of its support of the Chernobyl Children’s Project, to help deliver better care to children in the Gomel region of Belarus.

In Belarus, children with learning disabilities and those on the autistic spectrum are treated by a psychiatrist and can spend long periods of time in a psychiatric hospital.

The team of senior practitioners from Belarus travelled to find out how children are cared for in the UK by health, education and social care services, and the support offered to children and their families.

The hope is that this will help to ensure that children in Gomel spend less time in a psychiatric hospital, and instead young people with autism, learning disabilities and other mental health needs receive better care, support and education.

The visitors spent time in special schools in Stockport and Trafford, visited the Complex and Additional Needs Team in Trafford, child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Bury and Stockport, and Trust Headquarters in Ashton-Under-Lyne.

The visit was organised by Diana Jellinek and Rashad Nawaz, two consultant paediatricians with Pennine Care, who have both previously travelled to Gomel to help with the project.

Diana said: “The challenges to children, families and professionals in Belarus are very different to ours, so it was good to share what expertise we can, learn from them and help them to develop the services for their young people.

“The visitors were very keen to see how services can be delivered by agencies working closely together to improve the care for children with complex health needs and learning difficulties.”

Chernobyl Children’s Project is a charity which formed in Manchester and helps children who have been affected by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, which took place in Pripyat, in nearby Ukraine.

Due to the radiation released during the disaster, many children in Gomel have been affected by health conditions and other genetic disorders.

Linda Walker, Executive Director of Chernobyl Children’s Project, said: "We are very grateful for the support we have had from Pennine Care.

"The group have learned a great deal, spending time with doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers and social workers and they have gone back to Belarus buzzing with ideas about how they might begin the process of change."