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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Prospective visitors to a Urolink centre can often obtain a lot of useful information about a link centre from people who have visited that centre before. If you are unable to identify or make contact with the individuals concerned, please email Urolink at BAUS, and we will help you get the information you need.

It may also be useful to read the Visit Details & Reports for that centre (if available); some of the reports contain a detailed analysis of the visit.

For simplicity, we have outlined below some of the commonest questions we are asked:

What documentation do I need?


Check in advance if a visa can be obtained on arrival, or if it is necessary to apply to the relevant embassy. Take the correct amoun of money required (often embassies require payment in US dollars).

Work permit

If you will be carrying out surgery during your visit, you may need a local work permit. Check this with the local surgeon(s). He/she will need to arrange this for you and will require the following:

  • a curriculum vitae;
  • a letter of invitation stating your length of stay;
  • a passport photograph;
  • the last page of your passport; and
  • a certificate of good standing from the GMC (cost approx. £40).

HIV, hepatitis-B & other blood-borne viruses

You may be asked for evidence of your HIV and hepatitis status. For information about the prevalence of HIV and hepatitis-B in Africa, and what to do if you sustain a needestick injury or other exposure to contaminated body fluids, see the document prepared by Philip Thomas, Co-Chair of Urolink on HIV and Blood-Borne Virus Infection.


What should I expect when undertaking a visit?

Working in a different environment can be both challenging and rewarding. Urolink generally advises that, when undertaking a first visit to work abroad, you travel as part of a team or with another member of the Urolink faculty who has experience of the link institution.


I am a urology trainee: how can I help?

Urolink has agreed learning objectives and has signed a memorandum of understanding with the three, principal link centres. The educational activity is aligned to achieve these specific aims. As part of this process, it is essential to document and record outcomes from both educational and operative interventions.

Trainees can play a vital role in data collection and quality improvement during Urolink visits, as well as carrying out theoretical and practical teaching sessions for local trainees.


What are the benefits of going on an overseas visit?

A survery of BAUS members has highlighted the benfits of undertaking work overseas:

  • a better understanding of different cultures;
  • a greater desire to train and teach others;
  • a more open-minded attitude;
  • renewed energy and motivation;
  • better operative skills;
  • a more innovative approach to service delivery;
  • greater confidence in clinical decision-making;
  • increased awareness of the distribution of NHS reources; and
  • enhanced communication and leadership skills.

The benefits of working abroad are, however, more than professional. Experiences outside the UK help to foster durable relationships with the centres visited, and these relationships may last for the remainder of your professional career.

Working abroad has the potential to renew your enthusiasm for medicine, and may be an experience that is not part of routine UK-based practice. It goes without saying that a period abroad enables you to travel and maximise opportunities offered in the locality during your leisure time.


What about travel advice and indemnity cover?

Before leaving the UK, you should:


How does improving urological care make a difference?

Other than the obvious and immediate benefit to patients who receive improved access to good urological care, there are now well-recognised and compelling reasons for investing in improving global surgical care.

Further details about this can be obtained in the policy brief from the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery 2030: "The powerful economic case for investing in surgical care in LMICs". **

(** Low & Middle Income Countries)

Can I take study leave for a visit abroad?

Some Trusts allow Consultants to use study or professional leave in order to undertake educational trips. Urolink can provide a letter of support, prospectively, if required.

Trainees may be able to use study leave, provided approval has been obtained from both their local hospital / postgraduate centre and their Programme Director. Urolink can also provide a letter of support, if needed.


Should I take any equipment with me?

It is essential to check with the local surgeons, before you leave the UK, what equipment and disposables are available.

Equipment donations need careful planning. Any equipment donated should be recorded on a spreadsheet, along with the serial numbers, make & model. These details should be passed to Urolink, to ensure that the appropriate disposables are organised for future visits. A letter of donation should also be provided to the host institution.

There are some important points when considering equipment donation:

  • ensure that the equipment is in full working order and that all components are present;
  • consider whether repair and maintenance of the equipment will be possible;
  • check compatibility (e.g. appropriate manufacturer);
  • get import documentation (including a letter from Urolink);
  • get agreement from the local surgeons that the equipment is "on loan" and is for use primarily in the public sector by all trained surgeons in the department;
  • if you are carrying the equipment, check excess baggage policy;
  • agree in advance what is being "loaned" and to "whom";
  • request feedback after use of the equipment; and
  • notify the hospital services of new equipment.

There are plenty of examples of broken or unwanted equipment (pictured below) being "donated" to hospitals in Africa. This can be a burden because it may be difficult to dispose of damaged equipment.

Further guidance on the donation and maintenance of medical equipment can be found using the links below:

Health Partnership Scheme New Medical Equipment Program Medical Equipment Life Cycle Hilditch

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