Unit History: Royal Centre for Defence Medicine
The primary function of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) is to provide medical support to military operational deployments. It also provides secondary and specialist care for members of the armed forces. It is a dedicated training centre for defence personnel and a focus for medical research. The centre is based at Selly Oak Hospital; however, defence personnel are fully integrated within the Trust’s two hospitals and work in many of the different specialities.
The RCDM is a tri-service establishment, meaning that there are personnel from all three of the armed services. The military staff wear their own distinctive uniforms that vary depending on whether they are serving with the Navy, Army, or Air Force (although some wear a generic green uniform, with rank insignia, depending on the area in which they work). Whilst the RCDM is based at Selly Oak Hospital , defence personnel are fully integrated throughout both sites and treat both military and civilian patients. The Trust also holds the contract for providing medical services to military personnel evacuated from overseas via the “Aero med service”.
The Centre was formally opened on 2nd April 2001 by HRH the Princess Royal and given approval by The Queen that the title ‘Royal’ may be applied to the centre from 1st April 2002. It was particularly fitting that the opening ceremony should be performed by the Princess Royal, as it was her husband, Captain Timothy Laurence, who wrote the original Ministry of Defence report advocating the creation of the Centre for Defence Medicine.
The first staff to arrive at University Hospital Birmingham were seven nurses who joined the Accident and Emergency Department in September 2000. They have since been joined by doctors, nurses, therapists and support staff who work throughout the Trust and now total approximately 600 in number.
The personnel who work within RCDM all have roles away from Birmingham and many have been involved in the recent military operations abroad in accordance with the centres primary function.
RCDM will continue to grow to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Defence| and the Trust and will be an integral part of the New Hospital|.
As part of the development of RCDM, as a centre of excellence for defence medical research, the Royal Defence Medical College relocated from Gosport to Birmingham and is now a part of the University of Birmingham’s Medical School|. In this role RCDM has developed innovative training and education programmes and research of relevance to civilian and military medicine.
The project has also involved other agencies across Birmingham including the University of Birmingham| and University of Central England| (UCE). It is at this latter institution where the Defence School of Health Care Studies is based and is responsible, in conjunction with UCE, for the provision of training to all military nurses and allied health professionals.