Meet the Team - International Medical staff working within the HSC

Dr Colin Winter

“ The encouragement of senior colleagues and consultants was invaluable to me throughout this time and gave me confidence about practising my chosen specialism.”

I'm originally from South Africa and currently a consultant anaesthetist in the Southern Trust. When I first came to the UK, I’d never worked abroad before. My first offer of an appointment from London was in Northern Ireland. I was apprehensive at first, but I accepted the post. In 2002 I arrived in a cold and grey Belfast, and I’m still here.

The first thing that struck me was how incredibly friendly and genuine the people were. (On my first Christmas Day I had twenty offers for lunch with families I’d just met!) I was immediately made to feel part of the team.

After two years in internal medicine, I expressed an interest in anaesthesia, and interviews were arranged to help me apply to join the training scheme. The support was phenomenal from so many different people. That was the start of an incredible seven years as a senior house officer and later as a registrar.

The training was very well organised and co-ordinated through the Royal College in London, with contributions from the College in Dublin. I was able to spend rotations in numerous hospitals, each specialising in a particular area of anaesthesia.

The encouragement of senior colleagues and consultants was invaluable to me throughout this time
and gave me confidence about practising my chosen specialism. After training, I was offered a consultant post in my chosen hospital. That was four years ago.

I consider myself very fortunate to have trained and worked in Northern Ireland. I came here as a married
guy and now have two children who are happily progressing through school and doing well. I’m glad to call this part of the world my new home.

I would encourage any doctor looking for a new experience or career challenge to consider Northern
Ireland. The training facilities here are great. The support is incredible. And the craic inside and outside
of work is phenomenal!

Dr Azmet Khan

"Working with an excellent surgical team has provided me with opportunities for professional development,teaching, training, and improved skills and knowledge, allowing great professional satisfaction."

I’m originally from Pakistan and joined the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine in August 1994, initially as SHO then as a Registrar in General Surgery. In 1996 I was appointed to a Staff Grade position and was then upgraded to an Associate Specialist in Surgery.

I was persuaded to consider Coleraine and the Causeway Hospital by a friend who was already
 working here as Registrar and was very happy. That really encouraged me.

The whole process of coming here was unbelievably smooth and I had the full support of excellent surgical colleagues and the hospital administration. I still remember particular individuals contacting me
frequently and guiding me throughout the process. Family accommodation was provided and we felt at
home straightaway.

On my first day I was welcomed into a professional and supportive environment. I was introduced to all the staff, to the excellent senior surgeons, nursing staff and administration. They were all so helpful. We are like family and I still have the same close relationships with my work colleagues, including those who have since retired.

There was support in every aspect, with family matters, children’s schooling, etc., and the welcoming community outside work was evident from start. All of this helped me and my family become integrated within the community very quickly. Memories of the last 22 years in Coleraine make me feel proud and happy, and I am fully satisfied with both my professional and family life as a whole.

Working with an excellent surgical team has provided me with opportunities for professional development,
teaching, training, and improved skills and knowledge, allowing great professional satisfaction. Progress is guaranteed working in a place like Causeway Hospital.

Coleraine is a community with many diverse backgrounds. The people are very welcoming. The town has every amenity, and the education system in Northern Ireland has some of the best schools. This was one of main reasons I chose to live here. In fact, to anyone considering Northern Ireland, I would certainly recommend it!

Dr Damilola Akinrinsola

“It has been easy to balance my work and home life because the shifts are very reasonable, which allows me to take care of my family and attend to my other obligations.

I’m originally from Nigeria, where I completed my primary medical degree at the University of Ilorin and
I now as a specialty doctor in the Acute Medical Unit of Altnagelvin Hospital.

Coming from a totally different kind of medical system, I really wasn’t sure what was expected of me, but right from the start, the support from all the people around me was fantastic, from HR personnel to nurses, doctors and consultants and other colleagues. They were all so ready to assist me in settling down, making sure I was happy, helping with paperwork and even providing references for my accommodation.

The support structures in HSCNI are impeccable – from guidelines to Trust policies – then there are excellent opportunities for CPD and career progression to consider as well.It has been easy to balance my work and home life because the shifts are very reasonable, which allows me to take care of my family and attend to my other obligations.

I couldn’t believe it when I was told the cost of a threebed apartment here. In England, I would have paid times three more at least. Food is cheap too.Northern Ireland is peaceful with wonderful scenery,nice restaurants and historical places to visit. The weather,well, yes, it’s sometimes cold – but nothing I can’t handle(even if it does mean having to wear a jacket in summer on occasion!).

The education system here is wonderful, I can’t complain at all, and the people of Northern Ireland are the friendliest bunch I have ever met. Very welcoming with lovely smiles and a weird sense of humour. They are fun to be with, and the taxi drivers are great.

I would recommend HSCNI 100% because they just made the difficult aspects of relocation very easy. I’m glad I work here – no regrets at all. I’ve loved every moment of being here!

Dr Wesam Elbaroni

I’m originally from Libya and currently work as a Specialty Doctor in Urology at the Belfast City Hospital, which is part of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

After graduating in 2011, I set off in search of better surgical training, brighter prospects and quality of life for myself and my family. On advice from a relative, I chose to settle in Northern Ireland.

As an overseas doctor I found the transition into my new surroundings difficult at first. However, when I asked for help, everyone was really supportive. Initially I completed two years of Core Surgical Training and I have thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from the support and encouragement I’ve received – and continue to receive – in my current position.

There is a great culture of evidence-based medicine being practised within the Belfast HSC Trust, with ample opportunities to improve clinical practice and surgical skills.

Outside of work, my family and I like to go and visit different places such as national parks and gardens.
There’s a lot to do in Northern Ireland and everything is just a short drive away. From personal experience, the people are very welcoming and friendly, and will go the extra mile to help you. I decided to repay this kindness with effort and by being the best that I can be.

I have always been ambitious and practising medicine is a calling for me rather than a job. I have never regretted my decision to settle in Northern Ireland as the standard of care delivered by Belfast Health and Social Care Trust matches my ambition. I would definitely recommend the HSC in Northern Ireland as a good place to work.

Dr Mahammad Faheem Khadin

I completed my primary medical degree at the Islamia University in Pakistan, but all of my basic and higher surgical training has been in Northern Ireland, mostly at the Ulster Hospital, where I’m now in the final year of my training as a Plastic Surgeon.

I decided to train in Northern Ireland because of the opportunities for structured basic and higher surgical
training. My colleagues, at all grades, have been very supportive, and the training on offer has been excellent. It is because of this that I am approaching my CCT in one of the most competitive surgical specialties.

I am married and currently we live in the doctors’ accommodation at the Ulster Hospital – one of the best
of its kind in the country. I’m able to balance work and home life very well, and the people are very friendly,courteous and supportive. We’ve never had a negative experience living here.

There are plenty of places to visit in Northern Ireland with Pakistani community gatherings, an Islamic Centre,and social events including the famous Belfast Mela, which is held in Botanic Gardens.

I know from my friends among the Pakistani expat community who have children that Northern Ireland hasone of the best schooling systems in the entire UK. The local people have been extremely welcoming and friendly – so much so that my wife and I consider Belfast as our home and Pakistan as our second home.

So, would I recommend HSC Northern Ireland as a good place to work? Absolutely – a big yes!