Life Support Courses in the NHS: A Guide for International Doctors

Life support courses, such as ALS, ATLS or APLS, are often listed as mandatory requirements for doctor jobs in the NHS. In this article, we explain what these courses are, why you need them and how to go about taking them.


What is a life support course?

Life support courses are designed to train healthcare professionals in best practice for across adult, paediatric and newborn resuscitation. These courses provide doctors and healthcare professionals with the most up-to-date knowledge, as well as the confidence and skills to put that knowledge into action should it be needed.


Why do I need to take a life support course?

These courses are often listed as essential requirements for doctor jobs in the NHS. So, if you are an international doctor who is looking to make the move to the UK, having the right course on your CV might be essential for securing your perfect role.

UK recognised courses are essential for candidates who want to perform at the registrar level and whilst international equivalents may demonstrate skills and knowledge at interview, you will have to convert these during your first year in the NHS.

If you’re an international doctor visiting the UK with the view to securing an NHS job in the future, we highly recommend booking and completing a relevant and recognised life support course for your specialty. This really makes you stand out from the candidate crowd and you’ll be considered more employable by our NHS Trust clients.


Which life support course is required for my specialty?

The life support course required for your job role will be grade and career plan specific and also dependent on the department you are or wish to work in. However, life support qualifications tend to be most relevant for ACCS (Acute Care Common Stem) specialities, including Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine and Anaesthetics and ICU. More specialist life support courses are often required for some women and children’s roles, especially for those involved in delivering and caring for newborn infants. Speak to one of our expert NHS recruitment team by registering with Remedium and receive tailored advice about relevant life support courses according to your specialty and requirements.


Which life support course should I take?

There are a number of life support courses available, many of which are specialty specific. However, you should always ensure that your course is recognised by Resus UK.

The following list provides an explanation of the most common life support courses required for NHS doctor jobs in the UK.

Advanced Life Support Course (ALS)

ALS is a two day advanced course which teaches you how to manage cardio-respiratory arrest and peri-arrest situations.


e-ALS covers all the same content as the ALS course but combines e-learning with face-to-face training. You complete a series of online modules before attending the single day course where the face-to-face element of your course is completed.

Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS)

This course teaches a systematic approach to the management of trauma patients. This course was developed by the Royal College of Surgeons for England and is suitable for FY2, CT1-2, ST1-2, SAS Grades.

Immediate Life Support (ILS)

This course is for healthcare professionals who might have to act as a first responder in an emergency and provides training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, airway management and safe defibrillation.

Advanced Paediatric Life Support (APLS)

This course trains emergency teams how to manage the stabilisation and transfer of critically ill children, as well as the management of the child in cardiac arrest.

European Paediatric Life Support (EPLS)

This course is for healthcare professionals across any discipline and teaches you how to recognise early signs of respiratory or circulatory failure in children, as well as how to intervene and prevent further deterioration towards respiratory or cardio respiratory arrest.

Newborn Life Support (NLS)

This course is for healthcare professionals who are involved in the delivery and care of newborn infants. You will learn newborn infant resuscitation and how to best aid newborns in an emergency situation.

Paediatric Immediate Life Support (PILS)

This qualification is recognised across the UK and Europe and teaches healthcare professionals who how to manage and treat paediatric patients in an emergency. You will learn how to recognise a seriously ill child, appropriate interventions to prevent cardiorespiratory arrest and how to treat children in respiratory or cardiorespiratory arrest until the arrival of a resuscitation team.


How do I find a life support course?

If you are already working in the UK then many NHS Trusts will offer life support training on-site. However, if you are looking to complete a relevant life support course before you make the move, then you must take a course which is certified by Resus UK. You can apply for courses through the Resus UK website. All courses, even the eALS course, require you to be able to attend in person so you will need to ensure that you can be in the UK for the duration of the course. Courses often get fully booked quickly, so we highly recommend planning your attendance well in advance of any upcoming trips to the UK.


Where can I find more information?

At Remedium, our team have an expert understanding of all the qualifications you will require to find a job as an international doctor in the UK. As well as offering guidance of life support qualifications, we can also support you with questions around postgraduate qualifications, GMC registration, visas and COS and much more. If you have any further questions, register your details and upload your CV with us today to speak with one of our specialist recruitment advisors. Our team will provide you with tailored advice according to your specific background and job preferences and requirements.

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