Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine (PHEM)

Pre-hospital Emergency Medicine is a truly multi-disciplinary area of medical practice. The role of the Doctor has changed over the years, and traditionally has been on a voluntary basis outside any formal training or career structure. For those interested in this area of medicine, there is now formal training available.

Led by the Intercollegiate Board for Training in Pre-hospital Emergency Medicine (IBTPHEM), this area of medicine is now approved by the GMC as a sub-specialty of Emergency Medicine,  Anaesthetics, Intensive Care Medicine and Acute Medicine.

The East of England has long supported the development of PHEM including piloting the very first training posts through Magpas Air Ambulance and Cambridge University Hospitals. We have an approved programme of PHEM sub-specialty training that appointed its first (and the first ever) trainee in August 2012.

Attractions of the Specialty

PHEM takes the world of emergency medicine and critical care to the patient in their own environment. This brings new challenges in both the way we approach the patient clinically and the way in which we have to deal with the environment or incident, or even the way in which we might get to the patient (land or air). Operating in difficult situations in small teams with critically ill patients demands a clinician that is clinically excellent, a good communicator and able to make difficult rational decisions.

The East of England has had doctor involvement in PHEM for almost 40 years and has been home to many of the major developments over the years. Now it is the lead Deanery for PHEM in the UK and aims to provide a high quality integrated training programme for trainees.

Training Programme

Trainees are employed by the Dept of Pre-hospital and Retrieval Medicine at Cambridge University Hospitals (also the regional Major Trauma Centre) and hosted by our partner providers –

  • Magpas Air Ambulance based near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
  • East Anglian Air Ambulance with bases in Cambridge and Norwich

with assistance from the East of England Ambulance Service.

We have a number of posts available most of which will rotate between the providers gaining different experiences. The training consists of:

  • attendance at the IBTPHEM National Induction Course - a residential course over a week at the National Fire Service College
  • a focused initial training course (covering pre-hospital specific areas such as emergency anaesthesia, sedation, rescue, safety etc)
  • an initial assessment of competence at the end of the training course
  • Consultant supervised operational experience operating by land and air to emergency incidents across the East of England
  • specialised training courses eg Silver Command training
  • monthly regional training days
  • case review days

The training posts may be available in schemes A, B or C (see the IBTPHEM guide for a description of these) depending upon preference, availability and parent specialty. For example, scheme A alternates between 2 weeks in PHEM and then 2 weeks in your base specialty, allowing for a continuing learning thread throughout your training. This has proved very popular and base specialty posts are at the regional Major Trauma Centre (Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge). The operational experience and training provided by PHEM will expose trainees to the whole spectrum of emergency presentations – medical to trauma in all age groups.

Why the East of England programme?

  • Experience in providing PHEM training
  • A commitment to provide high quality training not service provision
  • A large rural area and coastline provides exposure to challenging incidents
  • Day and night missions (including likely involvement in night HEMS missions
  • Involvement in the region’s Major Trauma Outreach Service transferring critically injured patients between hospitals
  • Close links with the regional Major Trauma Centre in Cambridge
  • Close working with the regional Ambulance Service
  • Rotations between experienced organisations


We will be recruiting to our posts through the nationally co-ordinated recruitment for PHEM. Posts for August 2018 and February 2019 will be available through this process which starts in September 2017. Details will be on the IBTPHEM website along with the ‘Guide to Training’ which gives more details of training including the person specification.


If you are interested in PHEM training in the East of England, its worth getting in touch and finding out more. Observer shifts with organisations involved are often available and a useful way of finding out more. Contact the Training Programme Director for more details.

If you would like to find out more about PHEM training and our organisations involved, contact Dr Simon Lewis, Training Programme Director or the following:


PDF icon Programme Info 2018331.28 KB