The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Partners with the David Nott Foundation to Deliver Trauma Surgery Training

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26 Mar 2024

In a landmark collaboration aimed at addressing the critical shortage of skilled surgical care in conflict and disaster zones, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) - home to The Faculty of Remote, Rural & Humanitarian Healthcare (FRRHH) - is teaming up with the David Nott Foundation (DNF) to later this year host their Hostile Environment Surgical Training UK (HEST-UK) course.  

Taking place from 3 -7 June at RCSEd Edinburgh, the course celebrates a new era of partnership between the two institutions, leveraging the extensive frontline experience of Professor David Nott, Co-Founder of the David Nott Foundation, and his faculty of surgical trainers to impart essential trauma surgery skills to medical professionals. Both organisations are champions of humanitarian healthcare and this exciting partnership adds to the already successful FRRHH Introduction to Humanitarian Healthcare course launched in 2021. 

The DNF's mission is rooted in the stark reality that five billion people worldwide lack access to safe, skilled surgical care, particularly in regions ravaged by conflict and catastrophic events. Professor Nott, drawing from his 30 years of hands-on experience in war-torn areas like Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan, founded the foundation with his partner Elly to equip frontline doctors with the expertise and confidence to save lives under the most challenging circumstances. 

The HEST-UK course offers surgeons a unique opportunity to enhance their capabilities and readiness for humanitarian crises. Over the course of five days, participants will delve into decision-making and surgical strategies for austere conditions, covering a spectrum of trauma cases including penetrating and crush injuries, orthopaedic fractures, and obstetric emergencies. 

Previous HEST-UK courses have proven highly successful. Responding to the escalation of the Gaza-Israel conflict in October, two courses were swiftly organized in Bolton in December 2023 and January 2024. Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr Iman Al Mabhooh, expressed his enthusiasm at the opportunity: 

I’m excited about expanding my skill set beyond obstetrics and gynaecology to acquire new abilities that will benefit mothers and their infants in Gaza and the West Bank. I recognise the desperate need for assistance there. This course is unique as it combines obstetrics and gynaecology with trauma care and address complex challenges comprehensively.” – Dr Iman Al Mabhooh 

Nick Cartwright, Programmes Manager at the DNF, emphasised the foundation's commitment to training medical professionals on the frontline and why it’s so important: 

"Since the DNF’s beginnings in 2015, our team of experienced surgical trainers have upskilled over 1800 doctors and delivered 61 courses in some of the world’s most dangerous corners, including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Ukraine.  

With the delivery of our HEST-UK course in partnership with RCSEd, we will grow the number of upskilled, humanitarian surgeons who are ready to volunteer their skills, make rapid and effective clinical decisions under pressure, and manage the broad range of complex trauma injuries that present in the throes of conflict and catastrophe.” 

FRRHH Executive Committee Member Angus Watson shared that the collaboration signals a significant step forward in addressing the global healthcare crisis: 

“By combining DNF's expertise with RCSEd's dedication to recognise professional standards in humanitarian healthcare, this partnership promises to empower medical professionals and save countless lives in the face of adversity.” – Prof. Angus Watson 

The Faculty's commitment to supporting surgeons is exemplified by its decision to grant participants of the course a complimentary one-year affiliation membership to the Faculty of Remote, Rural, and Humanitarian Healthcare. This membership provides an invaluable opportunity to connect with a broader humanitarian community within a professional setting tailored for humanitarian, remote, and rural healthcare professionals. The expertise and skillset of humanitarian healthcare professionals offer numerous insights for the broader medical community, and we warmly embrace the engagement and partnership from the David Nott Foundation. 


HEST-UK December course is fully booked. To join the waiting list, please email

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