Wednesday 2nd March 2011
By Steven Bell »
A LONG-SERVING Kendal midwife has quit her senior NHS job to spend two years in Cambodia helping improve mortality rates.
Angela Oxley flew out to the Asian country yesterday after stepping down as head of midwifery, obstetrics and gynaecology at Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.
Mrs Oxley, a midwife of 20 years, had worked at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary before becoming a matron at Helme Chase Maternity Unit in Kendal.
She felt compelled to help improve midwifery in the developing nation where mortality rates are one in 260 for mothers and 97 in 1,000 for infants. The reason for the high rates is a lack of trained staff in isolated areas.
Mrs Oxley said working in another country had always interested her but until now the time had not been right.
“It’s something that my husband and I have had in the back of our minds for quite a long time,” she said.
“I wanted to work abroad but life took over and I got married and had children. Now they have gone on to university, it’s a good opportunity to do so.”
The midwife has been studying an intensive Khmer language course alongside having motorbike lessons to prepare.
Mrs Oxley will be based at a hospital in the Stung Treng region where poverty means local midwives do not receive regular wages and have to work elsewhere to feed their familes.
Any free time they have is spent working in the hospital.
Births take place at small clinics under the supervision of a midwife with only basic training.
Mrs Oxley hopes to use her experience to help train others in the region but is aware of the size of the challenge.
“I will be reviewing midwifery services and teaching in every remote town in northern Cambodia and identifying what goes on,” she said.
“It’s about where we can make some positive changes.
“You have to be realistic about it. You can’t go out there thinking you can change the world but you can make small changes that are sustainable.”
The placement is being carried out through Voluntary Services Overseas which aims to reduce infant and maternal mortality in line with the United Nations and World Health Organisation.
Her husband, Chris, has also flown out and will teach English and advise small businesses.
Mrs Oxley added: “I’m leaving one set of challenges in the NHS for another set of challenges but I’m looking forward to it.”
To pledge donations to help fund the placement, visit www.justgiving.com/oxleyincambodia