Britain’s medics urged to volunteer in disaster zones


British medical personnel are being encouraged to volunteer to help with the Government’s humanitarian emergency response to disasters overseas, under a new arrangement announced today.

Doctors, nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists and others can now pre-register on the UK’s International Emergency Trauma Register (UKIETR) to indicate their availability to deploy rapidly to the scene of tsunamis, earthquakes and floods.

It is hoped that more than 400 medical staff will be registered and trained by 2014, the International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, will announce on the anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami which killed over 230,000 people in 14 countries.

The UKIETR was established by the charity UK Med in 2011 and has already deployed surgical team members in support of non-governmental assistance operations in Haiti, Libya and Tunisia. Ms Greening’s Department for International Development and the Department of Health have incorporated the register into the UK’s official overseas disaster response.

The register helps co-ordinate the deployment of volunteers, to ensure that they have the correct skills, training and experience. Ms Greening said: “The UK public has always given generously to appeals in the aftermath of natural disasters overseas … Now medical personnel can sign up to the UKIETR to help after serious natural disasters.”