There are not enough trained medical and coordination staff globally as there are challenges recruiting, retaining and training the numbers required to meet growing need. The sector lacks consistency and consensus on training and accreditation for international health professionals. Our training for humanitarian healthcare workers, both in the UK and overseas, seeks to address this problem.

We are a membership organisation, with members drawn from across the UK and around the world. Members, who are in the main clinicians and allied healthcare professionals, are invited to take part in our training courses that will prepare them for a humanitarian or low-resource setting.

Training courses take place throughout the year and some are accredited to provide CPD points. The core training is designed using a spiral curriculum, where an idea or concept is revisited with increasing levels of complexity throughout. Once a member has passed the pre-deployment course they will be considered for our sudden-onset disaster and overseas training teams or expert deployments, at which point they will be invited to attend the relevant deployment courses.

Stage One: Basic Security in the Field

Once a member has a place on the Pre-Deployment Course, they will be asked to complete the United Nations Department of Safety & Security (UNDSS) e-learning course ‘BSAFE’. The course gives an overview of important health and safety considerations when working in the field.

Stage Two: Pre-Deployment Course

This two-day residential training course provides members with an overview of the emergency humanitarian context. It covers necessary safety and security information. Participants are assessed on teamwork, leadership and communication skills. On successful completion of the course, members will be considered to join an on-call team.

Stage Three: Deployment Course for a Specific Team

A longer residential simulation and team-based training course brings together many of the challenges likely to be faced on deployment such as security risks, language difficulties, cultural considerations and team dynamics. Members take part in small team-building exercises and workshops to get used to the practical requirements and tools used in the field – for example communications, power, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), ethics and personal kit. Members are trained and assessed in line with World Health Organisation guidelines; ‘Classification and Minimum Standards for Foreign Medical Teams in Sudden onset disasters’.

Specialist training courses

At different stages of the training pathway members may be invited to attend further specialist training. This training is only a requirement for being on-call for certain specialities. For others, it provides additional skills for team members.