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UK nurses describe ‘shocking’ migrant camp conditions

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A trio of critical care nurses from the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton have described their “shocking” experiences of caring for refugees in Greece.

Lucy Pitt, Claire Cox and Kat Thomas, together with intensive care unit consultant John Kilic, travelled to the country to work at the Idomeni camp on Greece’s northern border with Macedonia.

“You just need compassion and kindness. The experience has changed my life”

Lucy Pitt

At the time, the makeshift camp was home to up to 14,000 people with barely any facilities, said the UK clinicians.

“When we arrived we simply were not prepared for what we saw,” said Ms Pitt. “As senior members of the ICU team, we have all experienced difficult situations and trauma but this level of human suffering was shocking.

“It was cold and raining and people didn’t have shoes or warm clothes. They were wet, cold and sick with chest infections,” she said.

Ms Pitt described how the team delivered “basic primary care” working from the back of an ambulance, treating between 300 and 500 people per day.

“We gave out antibiotics and paracetamol,” she said. “We did not make any difference to the situation, but on a human level I think we made a massive difference.

University of Brighton

UK nurses describe ‘shocking’ migrant camp conditions

Refugees queue for medications

“The people we met were the same as us,” she said. “The refugees are the middle-class educated people – doctors, lawyers, nurses, civil engineers.”

The refugees they cared for included children and pregnant women. “We met lots of people who’d had their babies in tents with no support,” said Ms Pitt.

She highlighted how she fell back on basic her nursing skills. “I am ICU-trained but I think the course that helped me most was the physical assessment module at university,” she said.

“Really, anyone could do the work in Greece – you just need compassion and kindness,” she said. “The experience has changed my life.”

The three nurses, who all trained at the University of Brighton, will be giving a talk about their experience later today as part of a series of activities linked to World Refugee Awareness Month in June.

Since they returned from Greece, thousands of migrants have been evacuated from the Idomeni camp, with most moved to specially designed processing facilities.

University of Brighton

UK nurses describe ‘shocking’ migrant camp conditions

Smiles in the face of adversity: Kat Claire John and Lucy

University of Brighton

UK nurses describe ‘shocking’ migrant camp conditions

Growing up in Idomeni camp

University of Brighton

UK nurses describe ‘shocking’ migrant camp conditions

Home is a garage

University of Brighton

UK nurses describe ‘shocking’ migrant camp conditions

Idomeni camp

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