Brunei Blog Week 1

 

Brunei Blog Week 1

 

I have been doing MOD locus for quite a few years now. Many of these assignments have been in the UK, although I have previously worked for six weeks in the British Army base in Kenya a few years ago. If you read my blog at the time you will remember that it was a small medical team comprising just two doctors (including myself), a nurse and a field medic who also had to act as receptionist, practice manager, admin coordinator and 1st on call over nights. Access to secondary care was severely limited as the main hospitals were in Nairobi which was a good three hour drive away, and the road there was too unsafe to drive after dark.

 

As this was my only experience of UK military locum assignments overseas, part of me expected similar staffing levels and on call requirements (which in Kenya involved being on call for everything from minor illness to major trauma). I knew that Brunei was a much wealthier country, so I was expecting better standards of secondary care, although I still did not know what to expect. Due to the time difference it was difficult to have long calls to the centre in advance to find out more, especially as the assignment was offered and booked at very short notice (about two weeks!)

 

After my Kenyan experience I took every opportunity in the two weeks leading up to the assignment preparing in anyway I could, such as online Pre-hospital care refreshers, paediatric updates (as we would be looking after families as well as the soldiers) and checking that paperwork and jabs were up to date. Thankfully malaria tablets are not currently needed and I had already had pretty much every jab under the sun from previous work in Kenya, Namibia, India and Sierra Leone.

 

After a long flight (well, two flights, as we stopped in Dubai for refuelling) I was met at the airport by a designated driver who took me the hour and a half from the international airport at Bandar Seri Begawan to my hotel at Kuala Belait. Previous locus had either been housed in the Seaview Hotel here or in the Officers’ Mess two minutes down the road. The hotel is right on the beach and has pool and gym. I was able to relax the following day (Sunday) before starting work on the Monday morning. The lead medic met up with me on the Sunday and drove me around the area to get

acclimatised.

 

Arriving at the Medical Centre Monday morning I was pleasantly surprised by the differences to Kenya. We were housed in a large centre that used to be a small hospital with 4 doctors, dental centre, multiple nurses, midwives, health visitors and physios. There are also two large hospitals within transport distance, one in the capital and one near the hotel. We also have access to the private clinic run by Shell for X-rays, ultrasounds, etc.

 

All the staff have been very welcoming, but the patient demographic is very different to what I was expecting. Most of the soldiers and their families are from the Gurkhas, and as such are Nepalese. As such, communication with some has been interesting! Thankfully, however, many are away on summer leave at the moment, so I have been able to have a gentle introduction to working here. On calls have been peaceful so far.

 

Brunei is, however, a very quiet country, so be prepared to find your own entertainment in the evenings. At weekends, many catch the dirt cheap flights to places like Singapore, so they can have a change of scenery.

 

Everyone has been very welcoming, so I am looking forward to the next few weeks of this assignment. I am also fortunate that one of the CMPs here is a former Med-Co locum who has worked in many of the same places as me, so I have been able to catch up on all the gossip!

Dr Turley

Dr Turley will update us as the weeks go on about his post.

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