Since the outbreak of the current conflict in the Middle East the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has recognised the horror facing all those affected and impacted.
In October we publicly recognised that our EM colleagues, working in the conflict zone and beyond, were dealing with unimaginably challenging situations.
Later that month we signed the International Federation of Emergency Medicine’s statement on protection of health workers and facilities in areas of war and conflict, which reflects that under the Hague Regulations and Geneva Convention: “Medical units exclusively assigned to medical purposes must be respected and protected in all circumstances.”
We stand by these earlier statements and endorse and support international laws with respect to the neutrality of both military and civilian medical units and are concerned for those who are suffering. Patients and medical workers in areas engulfed by conflict must never be targeted or be allowed to become collateral damage as part of wider war and violence. It is critical those working in conflict zones, and their patients, have safe havens.
Following these earlier statements we have continued to give careful consideration to the range of views being presented to us, given the evolving crisis and the impact this is having on our members and fellows – and more widely – as we witness one of the largest humanitarian crisis in recent history. We recognise the strength of feeling and we deplore all types of violence. We unequivocally empathise with all those affected.
To our EM colleagues trying to deliver care in appalling conditions, we stand in solidarity with you. We reiterate our calls for the protection of health facilities, health and humanitarian workers, patients and civilians throughout this conflict.
We have a diverse membership and we also recognise that these events have deeply affected many of our members, fellows and colleagues, both in the UK and other parts of the world, particularly those who are from the affected or surrounding areas in the Middle East, or who still have family and friends there and are concerned for their safety.
During this period of suffering, it is imperative that we provide compassionate support for all those who are impacted in any way. As members, we urge you to look out for your colleagues for signs of distress or anxiety and to offer support where you can – even a simple acknowledgement of the impact this is having can go a long way. As a College we urge leaders to be compassionate with their teams who are trying so hard to undertake their duties, while potentially under huge personal strain.
We would remind members that they and their immediate family can get support through our Health Assured Individual Assistance Programme, which we provide as a benefit to members which offers free practical and emotional support and advice on work and home life challenges. Contact 0800 028 0199.
You may also wish to consider supporting one of the many organisations providing aid to those affected. Here are just a few of the many charities available.