Volunteers’ Week: meet consultant anaesthetist Dr Manish Raval

June 2018

June 1-7 celebrates National Volunteers’ Week, which recognises the incredible contribution of volunteers across the UK. Volunteers’ Week also coincides with the 70th birthday of the NHS. To mark both milestones, we’re shining a spotlight on our invaluable volunteers and sharing the work they do in the fight against avoidable blindness.

Meet Dr Manish Raval, a Consultant Anaesthetist from Moorfields Eye Hospital. He has been involved with Orbis since 2011, travelling to Mongolia, Zambia, Ghana, China and Peru and volunteering with the Flying Eye Hospital and our country hospital-based programmes.

Volunteering with Orbis

Dr Manish is a firm believer that volunteers can learn a lot from their time with Orbis, as well as passing on their own skills. He has often spoken about the benefits to the NHS he has discovered through volunteering with us.

Operating within developing countries requires ingenuity. He developed an anaesthetic technique before travelling to an Orbis programme based on the standard approach used within the NHS, but in a more cost-effective way.

He now uses this technique here within the UK and believes it to be far less traumatic to the eye and more comfortable for the patient. 

Volunteering abroad renews your sense of pride and faith in the NHS

Dr Manish Raval

Consultant Anaesthetist, Moorfields Eye Hospital

In a Huffington Post blog post, he explains the value of volunteering: “Through my experiences, I have discovered that my approach to work within the UK is changing. The NHS is, after all, a teaching organisation and volunteering is very much a two-way learning curve. We all want to feel like we are doing something to help others; this is why many of us became doctors.

"It’s easy within the NHS to become caught up in the administrative tasks and processes and become disconnected from delivering care to patients. In the environment of working as a volunteer, care is much more immediate, with more time dedicated to clinical work and time with the patient.

“It goes without saying that volunteering is challenging. But all clinicians like to be challenged and to remind themselves of their ability to work well within difficult environments, with less.

“I have found that volunteering brings with it a new sense of appreciation for the processes and working environment we have here in the UK. We are stringent in our approach to infection control and sterilisation. We operate under the WHO surgery checklist, which, at Orbis, we implement in every hospital we work in.”

Dr Manish very much enjoys working with the local anaesthetists within the local facilities and was particularly fond of his time working in Zambia

In the UK, we largely treat people with problems that are relatively minor in comparison to what we see when volunteering abroad. Moreover, in remote areas, even minor health complications can be life-threatening. Being able to help someone so ill is immensely satisfying. You have changed their life. The patients we treat are quite remarkable too, so stoical. They are patient and calm and grateful for the service in whatever form it takes, whether it’s through Orbis or what is normally there

Dr Manish Raval

“Volunteering is very hard work, but you return feeling refreshed by the experience. You scrutinise the way in which you work, looking for areas of inefficiency or waste. We should always ask the question, can we simplify? It’s not always about the equipment and drugs you use but the way you do things. It’s surprising how much you can learn from the way people do things elsewhere.

“Volunteering has been such an important experience for me. It’s an important experience for the NHS too. We know it’s not perfect, but the NHS is vital and we can all make a difference.”

A big thank you to Manish and all our dedicated volunteers, who are making a difference in the communities we work in.

In the fight against avoidable blindness, every minute counts

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