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Trade mission to Thailand and Vietnam: Sowing the seeds for international collaboration

Angela Bagum, the Head of our Digital and Short Course Portfolio in our Department for Education and Training, has recently returned from a fruitful trade mission to Vietnam and Thailand. The Tavistock and Portman was the only NHS Mental Health Trust to be invited on the mission, which has laid the foundations for a rich array of new international relationships.

The trade mission was supported by the Department for Business and Trade with the aim of creating revenue-generating opportunities, cross-cultural learning to support global research, and provided our Trust with a world stage upon which to share our distinctive approach to healthcare and education. The mission also celebrated both 75 years of the NHS and 50 years of diplomatic relations between the U.K. and Vietnam. The mission provided an opportunity to better understand the healthcare landscape and society of Thailand and Vietnam with a view to creating collaborative relationships to further healthcare provision and support.

Woman in a dress on a stage holding a microphone

Angela Bagum, our representative on the mission, is an experienced mental health professional and a nurse by professional background, as well as a trained art psychotherapist. Her current role in our Department for Education and Training, and previous experiences working across CAMHS services, have equipped Angela with an appreciation and understanding of the relationship between education, training and workforce development for service provision. Angela is also an Organisational Consultant for Tavistock Consulting, a specialist organisational development and change consultancy working with clients across the health, corporate, education and third sectors as well as in central and local government. This position has given her a unique perspective on working with a range of stakeholders across the public and private sector.

The mission involved meetings, presentations, networking and visits to healthcare settings with representatives from the public and private healthcare sectors, as well as government and diplomatic representatives. One highlight for Angela was speaking on a panel in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in front of Health Ministers on the importance of supporting a workforce in delivering child and adolescent mental health. In Angela’s words: “The children are going to support the economy of our global future, it’s important we take care of them and enable access to services and support professional development of those frontline workers. Mental health and wellbeing is a public health need.”

Picture of from the back of an audience facing a stage

With her years of experience Angela’s expertise in the NHS helps her advocate for its strengths: “I recognise that there are systemic challenges in the NHS but what the NHS has been able to forge is a workforce that creates successful models of care. That’s why it’s important we encourage and enable investment in workforce and service development – something we can share and learn about with other countries where there is a need. As an institution that has been delivering therapeutic services for over a hundred years, we understand what is needed to enable services to work well.”

Angela is one of a group of highly specialised Heads of Portfolio working within our Education and Training Department to represent their subject area and associated training programmes. Our education department also shares a strong and vital link with our clinical services. This symbiotic relationship means our clinical services are informed by our world-class education provision, and those that teach our courses understand first hand putting theory into practice. This combination is an essential part of our approach at the Trust and sets us apart from other education and mental healthcare providers on the global landscape.

Angela Bagum

On being part of the delegation Angela said: “It has been great to be part of the NHS delegation mission representing the Tavistock and Portman. Global health serves as an opportunity for countries to learn from one another regarding the changing landscape of public health services. This requires education, training and workforce development to support the clinical approaches often required to meet local population needs. With the advancement of technology, we can work towards an integrated system that enables opportunities for growth. It has been great to witness the compassion kept at the heart of this work to ensure services are right for the populations they’re designed for.”