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Defining capabilities in deployed UK military prehospital emergency care
  1. Michael Thompson1,2,
  2. O Jefferson1,3,
  3. T James1,4,
  4. B Waller5,6,
  5. R Reed7,8,
  6. H Slade1,4,
  7. K Swift9 and
  8. H J Pynn10,11
  1. 1 Royal Air Force Medical Services, RAF High Wycombe, UK
  2. 2 Emergency Department, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Gloucester, UK
  3. 3 Emergency Department, St Mary's Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  4. 4 Emergency Department, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
  5. 5 Navy Command Headquarters, Navy Healthcare, Portsmouth, UK
  6. 6 Shackleton Department of Anaesthetics, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  7. 7 Joint Hospital Group South West, Defence Medical Services, Plymouth, UK
  8. 8 Anaesthetic Department, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, Plymouth, UK
  9. 9 Tactical Medical Wing, Royal Air Force Medical Services, RAF Brize Norton, UK
  10. 10 Department of Research and Clinical Innovation, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  11. 11 Emergency Department, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael Thompson, Royal Air Force Medical Services, RAF High Wycombe, UK; michael.thompson21{at}


The UK military prehospital emergency care (PHEC) operational clinical capability framework must be updated in order that it retains its use as a valid operational planning tool. Specific requirements include accurately defining the PHEC levels and the ‘Medical Emergency Response Team’ (MERT), while reinforcing PHEC as a specialist area of clinical practice that requires an assured set of competencies at all levels and mandatory clinical currency for vocational providers.

A military PHEC review panel was convened by the Defence Consultant Advisor (DCA) for PHEC. Each PHEC level was reviewed and all issues which had, or could have arisen from the existing framework were discussed until agreement between the six members of this panel was established.

An updated military PHEC framework has been produced by DCA PHEC, which defines the minimum requirements for each operational PHEC level. These definitions cover all PHEC providers, irrespective of professional background. The mandatory requirement for appropriate clinical exposure for vocational and specialist providers is emphasised. An updated definition of MERT has been agreed.

This update provides clarity to the continually evolving domain of UK military PHEC. It sets out the PHEC provider requirements in order to be considered operationally deployable in a PHEC role. There are implications for training, manning and recruitment to meet these requirements, but the processes required to address these are already underway and well described elsewhere.

  • accident & emergency medicine
  • anaesthetics
  • adult intensive & critical care
  • health services administration & management
  • medical education & training
  • trauma management

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  • Contributors MOT and OJ wrote the manuscript with guidance from TJ and HP. BW, RR, HS and KS contributed as members of the review panel.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.