MDHU Derriford

Defence Medical Group (South West)

Military personnel have been working and training alongside their NHS counterparts since the closure of Stonehouse Hospital and the formation of the first Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit (MDHU) at Derriford in 1995. In 2015, all the former MDHU's became known as Defence Medical Groups (DMGs) and the unit was formally renamed Defence Medical Group South West (DMGSW).

There are now approximately 240 military doctors, nurses, medics and allied health professionals who are fully integrated into the workplace treating the local community whilst proudly wearing their service uniforms.

Nurses from DMGSW has deployed all over the world, including Iraq, Afganistan, Estonia, South Sudan, Canada and The British Virgin Islands to name a few. Each of these deployments has challenged our nurses in their own unique ways.

What we do

The service personnel are fully integrated into Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and serve alongside their NHS colleagues with whom they have developed and enjoy an excellent working relationship. Military staff can be found throughout the departments of the hospital. The main aim of the unit is to prepare military medical personnel to support exercises and deployed operations.

New nurses start on a rotation program, spending several months on a variety of different wards, such as medical, surgical and accident and emergency. During this time they are overseen by the unit training team who ensure the new nurses are fully trained and performing to the standard expected. During the rotation program, nurses will complete their Defence Operational Nursing Competencies (DONC).

Once out of their rotation program nurses are ready for deployment, and each year PMRAFNS nurses from DMGSW deploy all over the world, as well as within the UK. This could be being held on standby for the Air Transportable Isolator or Critical Care Air Support Team (CCAST), through to organizing aeromedical evacuation in Kenya.


RAF Nurses are still expected to maintain a high level of fitness alongside their nursing duties. At DMGSW, nurses are encouraged to attend adventurous training every year. This could be anything from Skydiving and coasteering, to canoeing or scuba diving (and much more). Social sport is also an important part of the job, and nurses have use of the sports facilities at the local bases as well as the hospital with regular sports sessions.

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