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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Doctors of the World’s Project:London clinic appeals for volunteer doctors

Dr Lucienne Aguirre
Project:London is a health advocacy and plays a unique role in that it serves as a safety net for those who are struggling to access mainstream health services within the NHS.  The clinic is run by Doctors of the World UK (Médecins du Monde) in support of its work to help vulnerable people worldwide, Project:London’s ethos is that health is human right.

Project:London is currently appealing for volunteer doctors to come forward. The clinic was opened in 2006 and provides medical care. In 2011 we saw almost 1750 service users who had a range of complaints The need for doctors to volunteer at the clinic is vital, as some of our service users haven’t seen a doctor in years, some of them have undetected conditions, while others have illnesses that have gone untreated for a very long time and have become serious as a result. 

Project:London runs three times during the week as well as once a month on a Saturday.   At each clinic a volunteer doctor is needed on hand to meet people’s immediate needs until Project:London’s Support Workers are able to help people register with mainstream services through advocacy and negotiating with GP practices. 

Dr Lucienne Aguirre works as a Psychiatrist, she has volunteered at the clinic since late 2011 and likes to combine both psychiatry and human rights into her role at Project:London.

“I started volunteering for Doctors of the World in Sweden and carried on volunteering for the organisation when I came to live in London.  As a volunteer doctor, I provide healthcare to those that are not able to register with a GP and see to their mental heath problems if required. Since I work in the NHS, I can see the stark difference between NHS patients who have an array of services available to them compared to the vulnerable patients I see at Project:London who have many needs but no access to services. The NHS as a body needs to understand that we are not their enemy and we need their support so we can work as a team.

The qualities needed to fulfill this role include being a good listener and have lots of energy.  You can’t help everyone one that comes to the clinic and fix all their problems but we try our best to help in whatever way we can.  You do your best and learn from each case. I have loved listening to the personal stories of the patients and its been an opportunity to learn about new cultures and languages.  One of the best things has been working in a nice team and knowing what you can and will make a real difference to someone’s life.

Thanks to my voluntary work I have just got a new full-time job.  I am so passionate helping the vulnerable people that visit the clinic I will continue to volunteer around my paid work.  It has always been one of my dreams to work with Doctors of the World UK and I aim to continue this as long as I can.”

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