UK Reachback: supporting child victims of the Israel-Gaza conflict

10 Jul 2024, 1:48 p.m.

A while illustration of a hand and a heart, suggesting care, against a blue background.

UK Reachback is a national humanitarian aid effort provided by children’s hospitals and other organisations in the UK and internationally. It offers remote clinical support to clinicians caring for children who have been victims of the Israel-Gaza conflict. The UK has offered ongoing support to both Israel and Palestine and the help is not political or partisan.

Current work

At present UK Reachback support involves 24/7 hotline support, a fortnightly multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting for clinical colleagues caring for children, and a rapid review MDT, to provide rapid advice for children identified for potential evacuation and where a UK Reachback senior multi-professional specialist review may help confirm the urgency and requirements for transfer.

UK Reachback supports the UAE Emirates Field Hospital in Rafah through fortnightly MDTs. The MDTs bring together experts across a range of clinical disciplines to provide advice on the treatment of particularly ill or complex children. The field hospital has around 200 beds, three intensive care units and three operating theatres to triage, treat and transfer adults and children. The UAE have pledged to take 1,000 injured and sick children into the UAE for ongoing support. The hospital is caring for children and adults in very difficult circumstances.

UK Reachback is also connecting with other organisations working in Gaza to offer support to children in need.

We have reached out to clinical colleagues in Israel and stand ready to provide support if needed.

About the support

The UAE approached Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) to co-ordinate the UK response, however the participating clinicians are drawn from organisations from across the UK nations. This includes experts from across the NHS, the Children’s Hospital Alliance (CHA), and many others. The UK also collaborates with experts from the USA, Spain and Italy to provide an international coalition of paediatric experts.

UK Reachback support is provided by teams of volunteer specialist clinicians working in multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) over remote telecommunications, currently providing:

  • A 24/7 ‘Hotline’ Reachback to support urgent issues, co-ordinated through the GOSH Children’s Acute Transport Service (CATS) with the support of UK experts. Started February 2024.
  • UK Reachback MDTs delivered by experts from across the UK. There are fortnightly joint UK, USA, Spain & Italy MDT meetings to discuss complex cases with clinical teams in Gaza, Egypt and the UAE. These are coordinated by GOSH CATS team and delivered by experts from all four countries. Chaired alternately by UK (GOSH) and USA. Started March 2024.
  • Rapid Response MDT meetings ‘as requested’ to provide rapid advice for children identified for potential evacuation and where a UK Reachback senior multi-professional specialist review may help confirm the urgency and requirements for transfer. Started May 2024.

The MDT can flex its membership and includes specialists in paediatrics, trauma, emergency medicine, burns, infectious diseases, orthopaedics, psychology, and other disciplines, to provide a wide range of expert support to help meet the daily needs of the field hospital patients and staff.

This is a UK national initiative, provided by volunteers from across the participating organisations, and we would like to thank everyone involved for their support.

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