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RAF LAKENHEATH — Dr. Peter Kirkpatrick from Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge had a couple of reasons to be at RAF Lakenheath last Wednesday, along with 27 other English physicians, surgeons and health care administrators.

For one, he’s a neurosurgeon who regularly sees American patients referred to his hospital by Lakenheath doctors. The U.K. doctors accepted an invitation to the base to see the U.S. facility and meet their American colleagues there.

But as a pilot himself, Kirkpatrick also has a keen interest in aircraft and had never been to a U.S. air base.

The hospital invited dozens of English specialists and health care providers, from surgeons to patient management workers, for an afternoon tour of the base and a meeting with around 50 staff members from Lakenheath Hospital.

The aim, said deputy medical operations commander at Lakenheath Col. Kathleen Dobbs, was to let English and American doctors who have little or no face-to-face contact get to know each other better, and to give the British care providers an idea of how their U.S. patients live and work.

Each month, the Lakenheath hospital refers about 180 American patients to British physicians and specialists for a range of ailments and procedures, said Rhonda Carter, director of medical management at Lakenheath.

The top areas for referrals are in cardiology, mental health, pain management and sleep medicine, she said.

The meet-and-greet was not the first time the hospital had hosted its partner providers on base, Dobbs said, but the visits happen infrequently.

The visit promised to be a benefit for doctors such as Andrew Hamilton from Thetford Osteopath, who treats up to 10 patients a week from the American community, he said.

Hamilton said he often sees patients with ailments from lifting or moving heavy objects, such as weapons and equipment for the planes, and was interested in getting a look at how the airmen go about their business.

“It will be quite interesting to see how people work,” he said.

Others, such as Kirkpatrick, said it would be a good time to discuss possibilities of working together on specific cases, and possibly even surgeries, in the future.

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