United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Capital: LondonArea: 243.610 km2Population: 66.435.550Official Language: EnglishArmed Forces Personnel: 150.000Medical Officers: n/aMilitary Hospitals / Institutes: n/a/n/aMissions: multiple

Surgeon General (Civ)
Timothy Hodgetts
Major General

HQ Joint Medical Group
Coltman House
Defence Medical Services
Lichfield, Staffordshire
WS14 9PY

The Defence Medical Services (DMS) in the UK

The DMS is made up of the Royal Navy Medical Service, Army Medical Service, the Royal Air Force Medical Service and the Joint Medical Group (JMG). The primary role of the DMS is to promote, protect and restore the health of the UK armed forces to ensure that they are ready and medically fit to go where they are required in the UK and throughout the world.  The DMS is staffed by around 11,200 service personnel (7,600 regular and 3,600 reserves) and 2,200 civilian personnel and provides healthcare to 135,360 UK Armed Forces personnel (as at 1 Oct 2018): 

Service personnel and civilians working side by side as medical, dental and allied healthcare professionals and with other personnel with the relevant business and technical skills. The range of services provided by the DMS includes primary healthcare, dental care, rehabilitation, occupational medicine, community mental healthcare and specialist medical care.

The DMS has:

·Regional Rehabilitation Units (RRUs) across the UK and Germany

·Joint Hospital Group (JHG) Units embedded within NHS Trusts

·The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) in Birmingham

·The Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) Stanford Hall near Loughborough

·mental health services are delivered through a network of Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMHs), Mental Health Teams (MHTs), and some additional locations have a dedicated permanent Community Mental Health Nurse

·deployable healthcare capability for military and humanitarian operations

The Surgeon General (SG) is the professional head of the DMS and the Defence Authority for an end to end Defence healthcare and medical operational capability.

The SG tasks are to:

·generate, deliver and assure medical operational capability for operations and fixed tasks

·provide and commission a safe, effective and efficient healthcare service for all armed forces personnel

·provide policy and advice on health, healthcare and medical operational policy

Joint Medical Group


HQ JMG is the strategic headquarters of the DMS based at DMS Whittington (DMS(W)) near Lichfield in Staffordshire.  It is involved in a number of defence medical projects, initiatives, campaigns and policy areas.

The JMG has an annual budget of circa £500m and supports the delivery of the SG tasks.  It provides an occupationally focused primary healthcare service, encompassing primary medical and dental care, occupational health, public health, force preparation, travel medicine, mental health and rehabilitation, and some outsourced services. Secondary healthcare is provided by the NHS with JMG input to their commissioning policy to ensure it meets specific defence requirements.

The HQ JMG is responsible for:

·Defining the boundaries and processes, in consultation with Top-Level Budget Holders, together with the organizational structures and composition of Forces, and the standards and quality needed, to deliver advice on health policy, healthcare and medical operational capability.

·Setting the overall direction on all clinical matters relating to the practice of military medicine.

·Setting and auditing the professional performance of all military medical personnel.

·Setting clinical and medical policies and standards, and auditing compliance by military organizations across Defence; Developing the science of military medicine to develop approaches and treatments that will best counter threats to the health and wellbeing of Service personnel.

·Providing deployable medical operational capability. 

·Building and maintaining the medical infrastructure and cadre of people.

·Delivering a comprehensive healthcare system that provides the appropriate timely healthcare to Service and other entitled personnel.

·Ensuring coherence of health plans between Defence and the NHS.

·Chairing the Defence Medical Services Board, the forum for providing strategic direction and guidance to the DMS.

HQ JMG Organization.

Directorate of Defence Healthcare 

Is responsible for the delivery of Defence Healthcare in the Firm Base and overseas as well as leading the transformation of Healthcare through the Defence Healthcare Delivery Optimisation Programme (DHDO).

Directorate of Medical Personnel and Training (DMP&T)

DMP&T is responsible for DMS manpower planning, Command of medical training and placement of DMS personnel into the NHS. It provides a suitably balanced, qualified, experienced and motivated workforce that supports JMG delivery outputs and the operational needs of Defence. This is achieved through management of high-quality clinical placements to maintain clinical competency in support of operations and the efficient force generation of medical capability.  In parallel, it delivers, assesses and innovates medical training and education through courses delivered on-site and a system of external training. 

Defence Medical Director

The mission of the DMD is to develop, deliver and maintain the moral, physical and conceptual components of the operational patient care pathway for which the JMG has a direct responsibility; influence those areas where JMG has a direct interest and; advise in those where JMG’s interest is more indirect but where our expertise and experience will add value. In doing this we will have the greatest opportunity to maximise the health and optimise the care of the Defence population. The Directorate comprises 2 main pillars namely Medical Operation Capability and Research/Clinical Innovation.

Defence Primary Healthcare (DPHC)

Provision of general practice and occupational health services is the responsibility of Defence Primary Healthcare (DPHC). DPHC’s purpose is to sustainably deliver and commission safe and effective healthcare, which meets the needs of patients and the chain of command. It provides primary healthcare, dentistry, rehabilitation and mental healthcare in the UK and overseas to service personnel and, where appropriate, their dependants.

DPHC supports medical force preparation of service personnel deploying on operations and exercises through the provision of health advice, preventative medicine, vaccinations, chemoprophylaxis and medical risk assessments. Responsibility for the day-to-day management of primary healthcare rests with six regional teams in the UK and a separate team embedded in HQ DPHC for overseas medical treatment facilities. UK based medical facilities are inspected by the Care Quality Commission.

Joint Hospital Group (JHG)

DMG provides highly capable secondary healthcare personnel for operations and deliver the operational Role 4 patient pathway. Defence secondary healthcare personnel are ‘placed’ under contract within carefully selected NHS Trusts. Day-to-day interaction with these Trusts and operational command of military personnel embedded within them is conducted by four DMG regional headquarters (JHG North, JHG South, JHG South East and JHG South West). This arrangement ensures that our secondary healthcare personnel are optimally prepared, meeting statutory and professional needs, whilst remaining available to Defence at the required readiness.  DMG are also responsible for the Role 4 Operational Care Pathway which comprises the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) based at Stanford Hall. Both are responsible for delivering elements of specialist Intermediate Care for which there is no equivalent capability within the NHS.

Defence Healthcare Education and Training (DHET)

DHET commission, develop, deliver and quality assure healthcare education and training in order to meet the needs of Defence.  DHET is comprised of the Deanery, which facilitates, and quality manages higher professional training of healthcare professionals and Defence College of Healthcare Education and Training (DCHET) which designs, develops, delivers and assures all internal Defence healthcare (Phase 2 & 3) training and education.  DHET also commission all tri-service education and training and facilitate all DMS military and civilian external clinical professional training needs.

The Royal Naval Medical Services (RNMS)

The Royal Navy Medical Service (RNMS) provides comprehensive healthcare to ships, submarines and Royal Marine personnel at sea and on land. 


It provides primary care, deployed surgical support and, through the Primary Casualty Receiving Facility onboard RFA Argus, it provides deployable hospital care.

It provides specialist advice in fields of radiation protection, diving medicine and environmental medicine through the Institute of Naval Medicine.  It also includes the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service.

The RNMS is headed by the Medical Director General (Naval), a member of the Second Sea Lord’s Board of Management and the medical adviser to the Admiralty Board.


  The Army Medical Services (AMS)

The Army Medical Service (AMS) provides Army medical and veterinary policy, operational capability, healthcare advice and assurance, to enhance and sustain the operational effectiveness of the Army.  Army operational healthcare is provided through regular and reserve army medical regiments that provide primary and pre-hospital emergency care and regular and reserve field hospitals. 





The AMS is made up of the following:

·Royal Army Medical Corps

·Royal Army Veterinary Corps

·Royal Army Dental Corps

·Queen Alexandra’s Army Nursing Corps

The Royal Air Force Medical Services (RAFMS)

The Royal Air Force Medical Service (RAFMS) provides direct medical support to the deployed force and delivers medical expertise including aviation medicine, training and support to RAF personnel and the wider armed forces.

The RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine conducts a wide range of activities delivering aircrew and aircraft integration, aviation medical training and specialist support through research and medical boards.


The RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine conducts a wide range of activities delivering aircrew and aircraft integration, aviation medical training and specialist support through research and medical boards.

Tactical Medical Wing (TMW) provides operational outputs including aeromedical evacuation, deployed primary care, pre-hospital and hospital capabilities.  TMW is supported by two medical Reserve squadrons: No 612 and No 4626.



Deployed Hospital Care 


Deployed hospital care is delivered on a joint basis, with each Service providing trained and equipped personnel for the deployment. The aim is to return the sick and injured to duty as quickly as possible. The intent is to provide a seamless continuum of consultant-led (where possible) specialist care encompassing preventive medicine, pre-hospital emergency care, primary and secondary care (including dental), imaging and diagnostics, and medical resupply and evacuation.


Patients requiring care beyond the capabilities of deployed medical treatment facilities are evacuated to the UK, usually to the Royal Centre Defence Medicine (RCDM) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. Established in 2001, RCDM’s primary role is the focal point for the military reception of operational casualties, providing the ‘front door’ component of the Role 4 aspect of the operational patient care pathway.