How we build our response teams

How we build our teams

The process of building a team for a humanitarian response can be a complex process, and it can be difficult to communicate progress without unnecessarily raising expectations as a potential response comes together.

We hope that the information below will help to clarify this process and the factors that we consider, as well as some of the potential challenges that can impact these efforts.

Where do our team members come from?

The roles on UK-Med’s response teams are staffed by members who have been invited to join our Register. You can find out more about this here.

Our 'no regrets' approach for team building

To ensure that our teams can deploy and provide the requested assistance, it is integral that we can operate on a “No regrets” basis when planning for a response. This can affect the team building process in the following ways:

In order to reliably fill all roles in a team, we often prepare multiple people for roles as contingency in case a team member is unexpectedly unable to deploy.

This approach means that sometimes we have to stand someone down who has put a lot of effort into getting ready, and we understand that this will be disappointing. We try to be open with those we are preparing if they are one of a number of people being prepared for the same role, and seek to inform people at the earliest possible opportunity if the role that they were being readied for has been filled.

Sometimes it is necessary to build a team alongside refining the specification of the response, and in some cases this will result in a late change to the roles needed for a particular response.

Although this will be disappointing to anyone who is no longer needed for the response, UK-Med’s obligation as a humanitarian organisation is to ensure the best possible outcomes and impact from our response, and this will be prioritised even if this means occasionally disappointing someone who has prepared in good faith for a deployment.

Finally, teaming will often take place in parallel with other key processes such as funding discussions or making security plans, which means that there is always a possibility that a whole response will not go ahead or be delayed because of one aspect of a response not being able to be confirmed.

Where this happens, we will seek to inform personnel at the earliest possible opportunity.

The team building process

1. Definition phase

At the outset, it is important that the aims and operational considerations of the response are agreed. These decisions then guide the selection of team members.

This initial phase is led by our Operations team, receiving binding technical input from members of our Health team.

  1. Defining the health outcomes that our response will deliver
  2. Defining the operational parameters of the response
  3. Securing the “Go” decision and the in-principle approval for funding

2. Teaming phase

Once the aims and scope of the response have been agreed, principle agreement of funding has been received and a “Go” decision has been reached, UK-Med begins to build a team. Decisions made in the Definition phase guides this process.

This phase is led by our HR & Membership team, receiving binding technical input from members of our Health team and others.

  1. Agreeing the ideal team composition to deliver the agreed objectives within operational restrictions.
  2. Defining the specific technical requirements for each post (these are normally from pre-defined role descriptions, unless the role is exceptional to the specific response).
  3. HR & Membership longlist candidates for each role, checking that candidates are available and deployable based on matching the technical requirements of the response.
  4. Technical experts review and prioritise the longlist. These experts are drawn from teams within UK-Med that match the specialist area, for example members of the Logistics team review logistics roles.
  5. HR & Membership negotiate the team members’ participation and complete any outstanding onboarding requirements for prioritised candidates, until the all roles are filled.

3. Mobilisation phase

Once the team has been finalised, we begin the steps required to move team members into the field. This phase is led by our Operations team.

  1. We arrange the flights, pre-departure briefing, arrival reception, kit & equipment.

Considerations when selecting team members

We review the below criteria when drawing up a longlist of potential team members (this can be up to 12 people). The same criteria may be used in deciding final make-up of a team, where multiple people are available and prepared for individual roles:

  1. Clinical / technical skill requirements – the match to the essential needs for delivering the health outcomes is non-negotiable. Where individual CVs will need approval from WHO and host Ministry of Health, the likelihood of gaining this approval will also be taken into account.
  2. Availability – whether the person is available to deploy in the timeframe required, and how long they can be available compared to the expected length of programme.
  3. Readiness for deployment – how close the person is to being fully ready to deploy e.g. up to date vaccinations, health clearances, police checks, codes of conduct, passport.
  4. Mobility – whether we have a reasonable prospect of getting the individual to the destination in a timely fashion, taking account of visa requirements, likelihood of visa waivers, flight options and any other potential impediments to travel.
  5. Safeguarding requirements – the person must have fully met safeguarding clearances for this response or have a reasonable prospect of doing so before they are required to deploy (e.g. a police check needs updating but can be updated quickly).

Additional factors are taken into account when deciding between people who each meet the above essential requirements:

  1. Additional skills – providing added value including though clinical skillset, additional skills or suitability for Focal Point roles.
  2. Balance of team – our teams are strongest when they include a diverse mix of people across a range of characteristics, including NHS / INGO experience, different personality types and traits, gender, ethnicity and other factors.
  3. Register development / professional development – each deployment provides some opportunity for people to learn and improve their skills as well as build engagement with UK-Med and through this strengthen our future responses. Where possible we will take this into account in selecting team members.

UK-Med in Ukraine

The health situation in Ukraine is particularly complex and constantly evolving due to developments of the conflict and resultant population movements. This means that needs assessments are constantly changing, which impacts the aims of the programme and the staffing requirements.

Operating within this context, UK-Med’s programming has scaled up gradually over the last two months with the HR team approaching members of the Register individually each week to join the programme.

This approach enables UK-Med to respond rapidly and flexibly to the changing needs, without over-committing time, funds and Register member’s goodwill to programme aims that may be highly changeable.

How likely am I to join the Ukraine response?

We cannot give prior indication of individual’s specific likelihood of joining UK-Med’s programming in Ukraine or on expected timescales.

We do expect the programme to continue to scale up as UK-Med establishes a longer-term presence in country and more members will be approached directly to join the response

We can confirm that Register members who are available to respond for at least six weeks will be prioritised. You can update details of your availability here.

Will I be approached to join the Ukraine response whilst I’m on-call?

If you have the required skills, experience, and are available for at least six weeks, then you may be approached individually to join UK-Med’s programming in Ukraine whilst you are on-call.

As the programme is growing gradually and no request for a Type 2 response has been received at this time, we do not expect that every member who is on-call will join the response in Ukraine. Please be aware that those approached may not be contacted at the same time.

The UK EMT also continues to be ready to respond to other direct requests for assistance from around the world, and so you may be approached to join a different response should the EMT be called upon to respond.