MDHU Portsmouth

Defence Medical Group (South)

Defence Medical Group South, formerly known as MDHU Portsmouth, came into being on 1st August 2015. The renaming of MDHU Portsmouth (along with all other MDHUs) was in part as a result of the role of the MDHU changing its primary focus and moving away from delivering patient care. As a consequence, DMG(S) primary focus is currently to deliver suitably qualified and experienced military healthcare personnel for operations through training and clinical exposure.

DMG(S) Mission Statement is "To provide highly capable, clinically and military trained healthcare personnel for current and contingent operations in order to deliver high-quality clinical care and support the moral component of Fighting Power".

DMG (S) is the largest tri-service unit within Defence Medical Services (DMS) outside the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM). As a tri-service unit working in partnership with Queen Alexandra Hospital (QAH), DMG(S) personnel strive to deliver and provide the best care possible for all patients in a busy secondary healthcare environment. The unit is currently comprised of 194 military personnel of which 35 are Royal Air Force, 66 Royal Navy and 93 British Army. All three services cover a wide range of different branches and trades that include: Registered Nurse, Doctor, Biomedical Scientists, Healthcare Assistants, Medical Assistants, Admin staff and Physical Training Instructors.

The current Commanding Officer (CO) of DMG(S) is Lt Col Adam Shorrock (RAMC) who took command of the unit in August 2015. Officer Commanding Nursing (OCN) is Cdr Fiona Thompson (QARNNS) and Deputy Officer Commanding Nursing (DOCN) is Maj Maria Maloney (QARANC).

Within the unit, there are currently 22 PMRAFNS, 1 MSO, 5 BMS, 2 Clerks and 1 PTI. The RAF personnel within DMG(S) are divided into four flights each with an allocated Flight Commander. There are 2 Section Commanders (WO) and the RAF Sqn is headed up by Senior Nursing Officer (SNO) RAF (an SO2 appointment) for chain of command support.

As a newly qualified Registered Nurse, on joining the unit you are automatically enrolled on a 12-month preceptorship programme. This programme enables you to complete the Deployable Operational Nursing Competencies (DONC) with mentorship and support from the DMG(S) Practice Education Team, therefore, ensuring you are competent and ready for deployment. As a preceptor, you will also be on a rotational programme allowing you to complete a 6-month rotation on each of the surgical and medical wards which in turn in prepares the individual for specialist courses in the future.

Within the unit, there have been a number of personnel that have been involved with numerous deployments. These deployments include:

· OP HERRICK – Afghanistan (Jun 02 – Dec 14)

· OP TELIC – Iraq (Mar 03 – May 11)

· OP GRITROCK – Ebola epidemic West Africa (Oct 14 – Nov 15)

· OP TRENTON – South Sudan UN Peacekeeping (ongoing)

Unit personnel also continue to support current and ongoing contingencies:

· PCRF

· VHR

· CCAST

· Aeromed

· Role 2 Afloat

The Hospital Staging Unit (HSU) is a future vision of the Royal Air Force Medical Services (RAFMS). 4 personnel from DMG (S) have supported EX ATHENA DRAGON in both of the 2 week exercises. If this vision is accepted it will bring together a bespoke range of multidisciplinary teams in order to receive, treat and prepare casualties for onward Aeromedical Evacuation.

Alongside contingency operations, DMG(S) actively encourages its personnel to participate in Adventurous Training (AT). AT within the unit is widely promoted and encouraged and in October 2016 a group of DMG(S) personnel completed the Nepal Annapurna Circuit – this is a 14-day trek across the Annapurna mountain range, ranging at approximately 100- 140miles in length and reaching peaks of approximately 6000-8000m in elevation.

DMGS On Exercise

June 2017 saw DMG(S) deploy to Bramley Training Area for a week long exercise utilising both military and clinical skills.

The aim of the Exercise was for everyone to develop and practice military skills/knowledge in order to be prepared for contingency operations. The main focus of the Exercise was Command, Leadership and Management (CLM) training objectives, with particular emphasis on Field Craft and an introduction to Mission Command.

As a unit which is predominantly clinically focused, individuals were apprehensive but excited about the pending Exercise. In preparation, there were weekly mandatory unit Military Training days, designed to assist personnel in learning and refreshing the essential skills required for the exercise. DMG(S) personnel with experience and knowledge from their previous trades or postings were utilised during these sessions. For example, a briefing was given about the Aeromedical Role from someone who was previously posted at Tactical Medical Wing. A Field Craft lesson was delivered by a soldier who previously served with the Royal Gurkha Rifles.

Feedback from peers about this Exercise was highly positive, as many of the unit’s personnel had not experienced of an Exercise like that before. Individuals said that this made them feel “part of the military” and “more prepared for potential future operations”. Amongst many other aspects, this Exercise addressed team cohesion within DMG(S) something which is often hard to achieve in a hospital setting, due to staff working daily in different areas. Furthermore many people were given the opportunity to lead, which as a predominately JNCO filled unit, was an invaluable experience.


Cpl Gilbert PMRAFNS

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