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More than 400 doctors to be trained for overseas emergencies

Authors: Tom Moberly 

Publication date:  29 Dec 2012


More than 400 doctors will be trained over the next year to assist in overseas emergencies, the government has announced.

Training to help provide treatment after tsunamis, earthquakes, and floods will be provided for doctors who pre-register with the UK’s International Emergency Trauma Register (UKIETR). The register works to coordinate the deployment of volunteers to rapid onset disasters. It was set up to enable the UK to provide timely and coordinated responses to overseas emergencies.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has provided funding for the register. This support will mean more than 400 doctors are registered and trained by 2014, the department said in a statement.

The UKIETR is designed to ensure doctors wanting to volunteer to assist in overseas emergencies have the skills, training, and experience to provide safe, effective, and appropriate treatment in difficult situations. It was launched in January 2011 by medical charity UK Med, and the charity has worked with DFID and the Department of Health to ensure the register is part of the UK’s overseas disaster response. Surgeons deployed through the register have already supported non-governmental organisations’ work in Haiti, Libya, and Tunisia.

UK Med trustee Tony Redmond, professor of international emergency medicine at the University of Manchester, told BMJ Careers that it was important doctors wanting to volunteer had the appropriate skills and knowledge to help. “People feel they have something to offer, but if they haven’t been to a big disaster before, they can cause more problems than they solve,” he said.

Doctors wanting to sign up with UKIETR would be sent on a two day pre-deployment course and then a two day deployment course, he added. The courses provide training on working in low resource settings and information on working with non-governmental organisations overseas or registering to practise in different countries.

UK Med has arranged with the Department of Health and NHS organisations for appropriate cover to be provided for any doctors volunteering overseas through UKIETR, Redmond said. The charity is now working with the Royal College of Surgeons to develop a course on performing surgery in low resource settings.

Doctors can register with UKIETR at www.uk-med.org/trauma.html.

Tom Moberly editor BMJ Careers

 tmoberly@bmj.com

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