Our latest visit to Zambia

Our Chair of Trustees, Ian Kerr, and Executive Director, Huw Jones, have just returned from a very eventful trip to Zambia. It was the first time they travelled there together and Ian’s first visit as the Chairman of the Virtual Doctors’ Board of Trustees.

Most importantly they attented a stakeholder meeting with Ministry of Health (MoH) Directors in Lusaka and key partners. On the agenda was an update of the Virtual Doctor service developments to date and to determine the way forward for the expansion of the service imbedded into the Zambian National Health Service. Ian and Huw presented to the MoH Chief Executive, Dr Peter Mwaba as well as the Directors of all MoH departments and other key stakeholders including the Zambian Medical Association (ZMA) and the Health Practitioners Council of Zambia (HPCZ).

We are still awaiting the full outcome of deliberations but the MoH have re-affirmed their support of the Virtual Doctors and will work closely with us to ensure the service is rolled out to more Districts and Provinces in Zambia in the coming months. This will only be possible through the generosity of our donors and supporters of course.

Ian and Huw met with a number of other potential stakeholder and partners and interviewed for the new Virtual Doctors Country manager.  The name of the successfully shortlisted candidate, who is a Zambian National, will be announced shortly.

Huw Jones with HE Muyeba Chikonde, High Commissioner for Zambia to the UK, and Dr Charles Msiska, District Medical Officer for Chongwe District

Huw Jones with HE Muyeba Chikonde, High Commissioner for Zambia to the UK, and Dr Charles Msiska, District Medical Officer for Chongwe District

Anniversary celebration for Independence Day

Did you know October 24th wasZambia’s Independence Day?  On the 24th October 1964, Northern Rhodesia peacefully gained independence from the United Kingdom to become the Republic of Zambia.  Our best wishes to all who celebrated this event.

Zambia Independence Day.jpg

Running to Raise funds

20161023_102203 (2).jpg

When she is not busy fundraising, one of our trustees, Ros Bird, is running – on 23 October, she completed the Great South Run in 1.38.30.   She set herself the modest target of £200, a symbolic amount for us at the Virtual Doctors: it is the sum required to equip one remotely based clinical officer in a rural health clinic in Zambia with what he or she needs to access the Virtual Doctors telemedicine service for a whole year. Thanks to the generosity of colleagues, friends and family and with gift aid, she has exceeded that but it’s not too late to help – how many more clinical officers can we equip for a year with your help, dear readers?  Go to Ros’s JustGiving page to find out more!

Anyone can raise sponsorship through local events – if you think you would like to try, get in touch by emailing


New additions to our team

LinkedIn photo.jpg

Lina Woehrling, our brand new Business Executive Assistant, has been with us in our small Shoreham Airport admin office since the beginning of the month and she will be working on Mondays and Wednesdays. Lina says “Apart from getting used to the noise of helicopters and private jets, I’ve been getting to know the moving parts of all aspects of the Virtual Doctors’ operations in order to support Huw in his daily tasks. After years of running virtual events in the corporate world I’m going to enjoy being back in the charity sector and working for a worthy cause such as the Virtual Doctors”.

During October we have also added two more volunteer Doctors to our growing list of medical professionals standing by to answer cases.

Rotary Racing Post

Our thanks go to all those who organised and supported the Rotary Club of Cranleigh’s Race Night on 21st October.  This first Race Night was well attended and great fun was had by all concerned, raising over £1000 for charity. Thank you again to Mike Ellis and James Phiri in particular for making it happen. We look forward to the next Race Night!





Volunteer insight

If you are interested in volunteering in the not for profit sector – see this FREE course run by the Open University that gives a great introduction. 



Making an Impact

The Virtual Doctors is currently set up in 22 sites
20 rural health centres and 2 hospitals
Covering a population catchment area of 1 million people

Our Medical Director, Dr Fran Fieldhouse, reports on a recent case from a Rural Health Centre in Lusaka Province:

“I recently had a case of a young male patient, with newly diagnosed HIV and syphilis. He presented in a terrible state, very thin and with weeping sores all over his body. Working together with the Clinical Officer, a treatment plan of HIV medication and antibiotics was commenced. He is now well, and his skin has healed.”


Hot off the Press:  Zambian High Commission event 

Last night (28th Sept) we held an exclusive event, by courtesy of His Excellency Mr Muyeba Chikonde, at the High Commission for Zambia in London. As well as H.E Mr Chikonde, our guests of honour were the former UK Minister for State for Overseas Development and Africa, Baroness Lynda Chalker and the High Commissioner for Malawi in the UK, His Excellency Mr Kena Mphonda.  The three VIPs enjoyed an informal buffet dinner joining the Virtual Doctors supporters, staff and volunteers where we shared achievements and challenges. 

In giving a vote of thanks Baroness Chalker commended the work of the charity and encouraged others to support our cause, emphasising the benefits of regular giving which she said “helps the charity to plan ahead”.  Presentations were given by Huw Jones (Exec Director), James Phiri (Charity Ambassador), Fran Fieldhouse (Medical Director) and Ian Kerr (Chairman). An added bonus was the offer of support from His Excellency Mr Kena Mphondato host a further event at the Malawian High Commission in November with the aim to expand the service into Malawi.

From left to right: His Excellency Mr Muyeba Chikonde, Baroness Lynda Chalker, Mr James Phiri (Charity Ambassador).

From left to right: His Excellency Mr Muyeba Chikonde, Baroness Lynda Chalker, Mr James Phiri (Charity Ambassador).


Annual Reporting

Our 2015 Report and Accounts were presented at our Annual General Meeting on 27th September and are now available.  Please contact if you would like to receive a copy.  This can be emailed or posted.  At the AGM we also held some workshops involving some supporters to help with our business planning, ensuring that at all times we remain transparent and accountable.

Our Expanding Team

Since our last newsletter we extend a warm welcome to new volunteers: 

Gavin Marsh as our new Honorary Treasurer and Trustee who will be advising the Board on all things financial.

Also from 3 October we are delighted to announce that Lina Woehrling will be joining the staff team as a part time Executive Business Assistant in our Shoreham Administrative office.  More news about Lina and how she is settling in next months newsletter!

We also welcome 4 Virtual Doctor medical professional volunteers to our medical team!

Cranleigh Rotary are Racing!

Members of Cranleigh Rotary have chosen the Virtual Doctors as one of their nominated international charities this year and will be holding a race night in Cranleigh on 21st October to raise funds.  The going will be good- if you fancy the odds it would be great to see you there – email for tickets and more information.


On behalf of all those who benefit from our service, we would like to say an ongoing thank you to all of our supporters, volunteers and donors.



Another month on


We hope you are enjoying your summer!  
The weather here in the UK is going to be hot this week if the forecast is anything to go by.  Not dissimilar to the temperature in Zambia at the moment, withtemperatures rising to 30 ◦C during the day.  August is one of the more comfortable months in Zambia at the moment, but in rural areas the roads are very dry, rutted and dusty. 
The local population will be quite used to travelling on these dusty roads  but even so, we can all perhaps understand that when you are feeling ill, it is an added discomfort to have to walk long distances to get to a rural health clinic seeking treatment. 
Our vision is to expand into more and more clinics to offer advice to Clinical Officers who may have to otherwise refer their patients on to a hospital, possibly involving long tedious and sometimes painful walks to the hospital and then back to the clinic some days later to get help.
Last month we mentioned the eight new sites in Kazungula District and cases have started to come in from those areas and we now have over 40 UK based doctors with a range of specialisms to offer advice for any they received.  We are now planning further expansion.  We simply could not deliver our service without the support of our volunteers and funding from our donors.  Thank you!



Broaching the subject of fundraising

When our Chairman, Ian Kerr, recently found some family jewellery in the back of a dusty drawer he decided he would try and find out a bit more about it. He discovered it had quite a history.  A broach which belonged to his mother, (whose uncle was the Tsar of Russia’s doctor) had markings that indicated it came from that region and period.After seeking advice from local Sussex based auctioneers, Gorringes, Ian agreed that the broach would be put up for auction and the proceeds would be donated to his charity of choice which of course is the Virtual Doctors and to maximise the donation Gorringes and the Eastbourne Auctions agreed to waive the fees.  We have just received a cheque for £580!  Thank you Ian – keep up the cleaning – a tidy sum indeed!


Landmark Team are Community Champions

We are delighted to learn that the team of volunteers in Landmark Information Group have received a commendation for their work developing our software by DMGT Community Champions Award scheme. The team have spent over 2,000 hours on the project to date and have given their time for free.  This is well deserved recognition for such wonderful support.   Congratulations to all involved.

Our expanding team

A warm welcome to 25 new volunteer Doctors who have registered with us over the past few weeks, clearly too many names to mention here but you know who you are!  We can’t than you enough for this offer of support. 
Another new addition to the volunteer team is Kevin Buck who will be helping in the office and putting his MailChimp expertise into play getting this up to date content to your inboxes.
Thank you all for giving us your time – we look forward to working with you in the future.


Thanks to Carlos Barcia of AETS Ltd, a kind supporter based at Shoreham Airport, who loaned us his training room recently to allow us to get off to a flying start staging interviews for our Executive Business Assistant candidates.  Watch out for the announcement of who will be taking up this role next month.