UK military preparing for deployment to Sierra Leone to help combat the spread of Ebola (2014)
UK military preparing for deployment to Sierra Leone to help combat the spread of Ebola (2014)

5 things to know about the Defence Medical Services

Armed Forces doctors, nurses and medics are an essential part of our military and provide valuable support our NHS.

1. Who are the Defence Medical Services?

  • The Royal Navy Medical Branch, the Army Medical Service, the Royal Air Force Medical Service and Headquarters Defence Medical Group all make up the Defence Medical Services.
  • It is made up of 12,200 service personnel (8,200 regular and 4000 reserve) and 2,500 civilian personnel (as of 5 January 2021).
  • It provides healthcare to around 135,360 UK Armed Forces personnel.
Captain Katy Trinick of the Royal Army Dental Corps (RADC) holds up an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine before administering it to a patient at a mass vaccination site in York on 20 January 2021.

2. What do the Defence Medical Services include?

  • Medical support on military operations.
  • Primary healthcare services, including: primary medical and dental care; occupational (on the job) healthcare; mental health and physical/mental rehabilitation.
  • Academic research and medical training.

3. How many Defence Medical personnel are embedded in the NHS?

  • There are around working in the NHS, bringing a unique set of skills and experiences from working in high pressure and unpredictable environments.
  • They include nurses, doctors, allied health professionals (who cover a range of support services) and medics placed within throughout the UK.
  • 350 secondary healthcare doctors undergoing placements, specialist training and foundation years training.
  • 360 secondary healthcare nurses and allied health professionals undergoing generalist and specialist training within the NHS.
  • 42 Vaccination Teams (each of 6 DMS staff) have been deployed by Defence, with a further 42 teams being scoped in support of the national vaccination rollout, should they be needed.
the RAF Tactical Medical Wing and the Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit (JADTEU) performing a mock casualty evacuat
The RAF Tactical Medical Wing and the Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit (JADTEU) performing a mock casualty evacuation.

4. How many COVID-19 requests did Defence Medical support in 2020?

  • They supported . The Military Aid to Civil Authorities projects mean the Armed Forces can support the NHS, government, councils or other civil bodies.
  • This includes support from concept to delivery of across England, including those in London, Birmingham, Harrogate and Bristol.

5. What were their key achievements overseas in 2020?

  • Supporting the return of British Nationals from Wuhan and the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship in Japan.
  • Supporting our allies in Jordan with Critical Care capabilities.
  • At short notice Combat Medical Technicians deployed to support our NATO partner the Czech Republic with their COVID-19 response.
  • Intensive Care staff and equipment was sent to the Falkland Islands by 16 Medical Regiment to more than double the Critical Care capacity of the King Edward Memorial Hospital, Port Stanley.
  • On non-COVID-19 tasks, an average 125 personnel were deployed, both Regular and Reserve, on overseas operations. These include CABRIT (the Baltics), NEWCOMBE (Mali), TRENTON (South Sudan), TANGHAM (Somalia), TORAL (Afghanistan) , TOSCA (Cyprus) and SHADER (Iraq) and supporting major exercise activity in support of all three Services.

Read more about Military Aid to Civil Authorities and the COVID-19 response here:

Find out where else the UK Armed Forces are deployed here:

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Stories from the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the UK Armed Forces around the globe.

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