Wanted: physio volunteer for year-long Sierra Leone mission

A university has teamed up with three NHS trusts to offer a physiotherapist the opportunity to spend a year working in Sierra Leone.


KSLP physiotherapist Catriona Shepherd treating a patient at Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone

The King’s Sierra Leone Partnership (KSLP) has secured funding for a volunteer physiotherapist to support therapy services in the West African country.

KSLP is part of the King’s Health Partners, an academic and health sciences centre formed by King’s College London and three London NHS trusts: Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley.

The organisation has been working with Sierra Leone health partners since 2013 and has made a 15-year commitment to help strengthen the healthcare system by providing clinical, research and training expertise.

This is the first time that KSLP has secured funding for a physiotherapy post, after a scoping exercise in 2013, undertaken by KSLP physiotherapy team leader Gemma Cook and her colleague physio Catriona Shepherd.

‘Sierra Leone is desperately short of therapists, there’s only around seven practising physiotherapists across the country,’ she said.


Physiotherapist Catriona Shepherd and team leader Gemma Cook are appealing for volunteer support

The country was declared Ebola-free in November by the World Health Organization, after nearly 4,000 deaths, and the health service is still facing the impacts of the disease which claimed the lives of many health workers.

There is a small, functioning physiotherapy department at the main hospital in Freetown, which Ms Cook said would benefit from a physio volunteer ‘who is able to bring an analytical, evidence-based approach within the limitations of the health service, which is quite a skill in itself’.

The role will be divided between working with the physiotherapy team, and a quality assurance role in an established club foot service run by NGO Mobility Outreach International. The post comes with return flights and accommodation and a £500 per month stipend.

‘We aim for the volunteer to be extremely well supported both from expert physiotherapy managers and clinicians in the UK via email and Skype, and by the established multidisciplinary KSLP in-country team,’ said Ms Cook.

The team are seeking candidates with some management experience and, ideally, clinical experience of working with club foot patients. It is essential that they have experience of travelling in low income countries.

Physiotherapists can apply using the link below. The post will remain open until the right candidate is found.

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