Oxford doctors trip to Gaza – February 2019


Oxford doctors with some female students

Five doctors from Oxford travelled to Gaza for an 8 day trip, from 28th October to 4th November 2018, to work alongside local teams. Providing an intensive programme of specialty teaching to the final-year medical students from the Islamic University of Gaza and Al Azhar University.

The trip consisted of 3 parts:

  • Teaching at the patients’ bedside and in small group simulations for 123 students from both universities. The specialities taught included paediatrics, obstetrics, trauma, primary care and internal medicine.
  • Training for the teaching assistants and junior doctors who run the medical student teaching all year-round, focussing on how to deliver effective medical education.
  • Quality Improvement in Healthcare symposium, which provided an opportunity for the medical students to present their quality improvement projects and receive feedback on their work.

The team:

  • Prof. Andrew Wilkinson – Neonatology
  • Dr. Debbie Harrington – Obstetrics
  • Dr. Rebecca Ingliss – Intensive Care
  • Dr. Mike Pike – Paediatric Neurology
  • Dr. Richard Harrington – General Practice

Sadly 5 additional members of our team were unable to join us, as they did not receive their permits from the Israeli authorities in time. We dearly hope they will be able to come next year.

The visiting team was very ably supported by Dr. Anwar Alshaihkhalil, Dr. Bettina Botcher and Dr. Amir Abukaresh. We are very grateful for their kindness and hospitality and the many hours of work they put in to make the trip possible.


Quality Improvement Symposium

Dr. Bettina Bottcher and Dr. Khamis Elessi have set up a programme to support and supervise the medical students to audit and improve the quality of care across Gaza. Each time we visit Gaza it is evident that this initiative is gathering momentum and starting to have a tangible impact. During our trip it was a pleasure to be able to support their efforts and provide a forum for their students to present their work.

This year seven medical students presented their quality improvement projects to an audience of doctors, nurses and students from across Gaza. Ms Afnan Kamel AbuFoul was awarded the prize for the best presentation and all of the student presenters received letters of acknowledgement.

Two of our visiting team also gave presentations on the theme of quality improvement:

  • Prof. Andrew Wilkinson discussed his work as part of a large international collaboration to decrease rates of infection in neonatal intensive care units.
  • Dr. Rebecca Ingliss spoke about the recent Lancet Commission Report on High Quality Health Systems.
Trauma simulations

Based on the student feedback, one of the most popular simulation stations we run is the trauma station. We use silicone prosthetics and synthetic blood to recreate a range of injuries, from burns and gunshot wounds to open femur fractures.

Gaza teaching

Using simulation, the students get the opportunity to manage severe trauma cases in a safe and controlled environment. The emphasis is on working together as a team and on learning to implement basic stabilisation measures.

With the help of actors to play both the patients and their families, we recreate the high-stress, frenetic atmosphere of the emergency room. The students get to practise managing distressed family members with kindness and compassion.

Management of Common Obstetric Emergencies

2017 was the first year we were able to include a doctor with obstetric expertise on the visiting Oxford team. This was received very enthusiastically by the students.

This year, Dr. Debbie Harrington and Dr. Bettina Bottcher renewed their collaboration, producing another busy programme of ward and simulation-based training. During their sessions there is a strong focus on communication skills, both between healthcare professionals and with patients and their families.

This year for the first time they were able to expand the teaching sessions to include the whole multi-disciplinary obstetric team, including doctors, nurses and midwives.


We were hugely impressed by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the medical students we encountered during our trip. They are testament to the fantastic work that both Al Azhar and IUG medical schools are carrying out.

It was a significant setback that half of our planned team of doctors were unable to join because they were not issued their Israeli permits in time. Nevertheless, those of us who were able to make it were very pleased with what we were able to achieve, providing general and specialist clinical teaching to all of the final-year medical students in Gaza.

We are indebted to FQMS and IMET2000 for their support for our trip.

Read more about the professional development programme here