Unit History: Medical Branch
The Medical Branch of the Royal Air Force employs men and women doctors and provides a great variety of professional activities under favourable conditions. In addition there is scope for the exercise of non-professional interests both in work and in recreation and there is sufficient leisure for sport and further study.
Types of Medical Work
Medical officers serve at three main types of stationflying, training, and maintenance-and also at hospitals and other medical units. Most of the training establishments are for technical training and offer opportunities in industrial medicine. Others carry out recruit training and present medical problems associated with rapidly shifting populations having inadequate "herd " immunity. Maintenance units deal with the supply, preservation, repair, and salvage of stores and materials. Many industrial processes are used and medical care calls for a knowledge of industrial health. The station me&1ical officer is responsible tQ his-commanding officer for the medical care of the station. His prime
duty is the promotion of health. In addition to the care of airmen and airwomen he supervises the station hygiene and sanitation. He also undertakes the medical indoctrination of air crews, the further training of his medical staff, the general first-aid and kindred training of the entire station, the administration of his sick-quarters, and the maintenance of records. Service families may elect to go on his list as National Health Service patients. This gives him not only the medical care of women and children but also the chance to do clinic and welfare work.Hospitals and Other Medical Units.-Service hospitals provide a full range of facilities for diagnosis and treatment, both in-patient and out-patient. There are also fully equipped medical rehabilitation units. The training of newly entered medical officers and of medical airmen and airwomen (initial, advanced, and specialist training) is carried out by a medical staff at the R.A.F. Medical and Dental Training Establishment. There are also certain specialized
medical units. These are the Central Medical Establishmnent with a panel of consultants and facilities for boards and specialist medical examinations, the R.A.F. Institute of Pathology and Tropical Medicine, and the R.A.F. Institute of Aviation Medicine. The latter undertakes whole-time research into the medical problems of aviation. Appropriate research is also undertaken at the other two institutions.
Other Medical Activities
A number of medical officers learn to fly; advanced types of aircraft are included. They are subsequently employed on flying duties in connexion with research or the medical care of air crews. Others are specially trained in the medical
problems associated with modern aircraft flying. Medical officers in certain units participate in mountain-rescue operations. A number of courses are open to medical officers, ranging from radiological defence to parachuting. Overseas Tours.-The length of an overseas tour is two
and a half years except for Iraq and Aden, where it is two years. The Royal Air Force has stations in Germany, Malta, Cyprus, Egypt, North Africa, East Africa, Rhodesia, Iraq, Aden, Ceylon, Malaya, and Hong Kong. A permanent officer can expect to spend about one-third of his service overseas.
Careers in the Service
Permanent officers may make a career in administration or in a specialty; the latter may be clinical or non-clinical. The major clinical specialties are medicine, surgery, orthopaedics,
anaesthetics, ophthalmology, oto-rhino-laryngology, pathology and tropical medicine, radiology, and neuropsychiatry.The non-clinical specialties are aviation medicine and the
medical care of air crews and hygiene. An officer selected for specialist training is given every help and opportunity to enable him to gain higher qualifications. A year’s study
leave on full pay and allowances is available both to specialists and to administrators. The latter normally take one or more of the following diplomas: D.P.H., D.I.H.,D.T.M.&H. Some, however, take a clinical diploma and subsequently combine administration with clinical work.
Medical officers take thefr share of non-professional duties, such as the management of officers’, N.C.O.s’, and airmen’s messes, airmen’s welfare, and station recreation and
clubs. This work brings them into close contact with those under them and provides a variety of experience extending from man-management to accounting and book-keeping.Sports and Recreation.-The Royal Air Force has most
extensive facilities for sports and recreation. All except the smallest stations have their own sports grounds and facilities for clubs and the pursuit of hobbies. In addition there are
some 25 R.A.F. Sports Associations, including the more usual sports such as cricket, fobtball, and hockey, and such activities as gliding and soaring, rowing, equitation, mountaineering, and winter sports.