Romford doctor ‘escapes government targets’ to become trekker treater
PUBLISHED: 15:41 16 February 2015 | UPDATED: 15:49 16 February 2015
A GP raising awareness of the dangers of altitude sickness swapped his surgery for the mountains.
Dr Ian Quigley, 49, from Hornchurch, braved high altitudes to treat “unprepared” trekkers and locals in Nepal’s Himalayas.
The doctor, who works at Western Road Medical Centre in Romford, and his wife Tracy, a nurse at the practice spent about three months with the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA).
The pair spent two weeks training and trekking to Manang – a village at an altitude of 3,540 meters.
Dr Quigley spent time treating everything from acute mountain sickness to potentially life threatening conditions such as high-altitude pulmonary oedema – where fluid accumulates in the lungs – and high-altitude cerebral oedema – where the brain swells with fluid because of altitude.
The GP said of the trekkers: “Most of them weren’t clued up, they didn’t have much of an idea and they didn’t really know what the altitude could do to them – we ended up evacuating about 10 people by helicopter.”
Locals were offered subsidised treatment after trekkers had to pay minimum of $45 for a consultation.
Dr Quigley said: “Back home it’s about trying to reach government targets for managing chronic conditions while trying to provide an adequate service for people who feel ill – it was good to escape it briefly and focus on doing what we trained to do which is to look after people who are ill.”
The HRA provides services during the fall and spring trekking seasons. During the rest of the year medical care is handled by two men with basic training.
Since returning the doctor has detailed his experiences in his book Mountain Medicine.
Dr Quigley said: “There may be a time in the future when I do more charity work abroad but for now I’m enjoying being safely, and warmly, back at work in Romford.”
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