The Army Medical Services consists of four corps:
- The Royal Army Medical Corps;
- The Royal Army Dental Corps;
- The Royal Army Veterinary Corps; and
- The Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps.
Organisation and Structure
Based in Strensall, near York, Headquarters (HQ) 2nd Medical Brigade commands 3 Regular field hospitals, as well as 10 independent Territorial Army (TA) field hospitals and other specialist units.
The HQ provides the medical planning required to operate behind the UK armoured division’s rear boundary as well as a number of senior clinicians to manage casualties within and outside of operational theatres.
Central Volunteer Headquarters (CVHQ) is currently co-located with the Brigade and has command of over 1000 personnel from the Army Medical Service Specialist TA, and is the principal focus for the staffing of all AMS TA related issues. Training is carried out at the Training Centre (AMSTC) adjacent to the Brigade HQ and provides all UK medical pre-deployment training for operations.
Medical Regiments & Squadrons
These regiments provide the medical and evacuation capability. Personnel can find themselves treating wounded personnel, or involved in their evacuation to a larger medical facility.
Field Hospitals provide definitive care for all injuries. A Field Hospital is a unit that, operating out of tents, can provide a NHS standard of healthcare anywhere in the world. Due to its size and complexity a Field Hospital is rarely moved.
The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) was formed in 1898 and is the largest of the four corps in the AMS.
The RAMC has a role which ranges from providing immediate first aid emergency care in the front line and field to routine treatment or long term care at health centres and hospitals, as well as health promotion and disease prevention.
In the field RAMC surgeons, pharmacists, doctors and medics combine expert medical training with leadership skills to coordinate large-scale trauma situations and humanitarian operations.
In order to Commission into the RAMC, one must complete a commissioning course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), either as a Direct Entrant (44 week course) or as a Professionally Qualified Officer (10 week course). Officer careers in the RAMC are all varied and challenging, and provide the opportunity to work in austere environments.
There are four potential roles that officers can access and these include:
- Medical Support Officer: provides the military expertise within the RAMC, the MSO’s fill the majority of the command appointments within Medical Units.
- Medical Officer: a qualified doctor who can be found providing medical cover to soldiers in a variety of environments around the world.
- Pharmacist: can be found working in both clinical and non-clinical environments all over the world.
- Physiotherapist: can be found providing rehabilitation for injured soldiers and civilians both on and off operations.
There are seven potential roles that soldiers can access and these include:
- Operating Department Practitioners: these are the members of the team that care for patients in the operating theatre. This could be in a hospital in the UK, in a field hospital on operations or even as a member of a small team who have moved as far forward as possible to allow the surgeons to be able to operate on injured soldiers as quickly as possible. Phase 2 training is 2 years, currently held at the Defence School of Health Care Studies at the Birmingham City University. At the end of the course students are awarded a Diploma in Higher Education (Dip HE).
- Radiographers: work in hospitals or in Field Hospitals on operations and provide diagnostic imaging services, working either in modern well-serviced departments or in minimal conditions with more basic equipment in the operational setting. Phase 2 training is 3 years, currently held at the Defence School of Health Care Studies at the Birmingham City University and leads to the graduate being awarded a BSc (Hons) in Diagnostic Radiography.
- Pharmacy Technicians: are employed in hospitals and medical centre pharmacies or within the Medical Supplies Agency. They are responsible for the provision of drugs and medical equipment to patients. Phase 2 training is 2.5 yrs, at the Defence Medical Services Training Group at Keogh Barracks near Aldershot and will lead to an award in BTEC NC in Applied Sciences (Pharmaceutical)/NVQ Level 3 in Pharmacy Services.
- Biomedical Scientists: gain a wide range of experience in pathology techniques which helps to provide a diagnostic service for medical officers caring for service personnel, their families and civilians. Biomedical scientists work in hospitals or Field Hospitals and also deploy on operational tours. Phase 2 training is 3.5 years, at the Defence School of Health Care Studies at the Birmingham City University and leads to the graduate being awarded a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science.
- Clinical Physiologists: are trained to provide diagnostic information of the heart and lungs on which doctors base their treatment and management of patients. Phase2 training is 4 years, at the City of Westminster College and Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit Frimley Park. This leads to the graduate being awarded a BSc (Hons) in Clinical Physiology and RCCP Registration (plus a further year’s postgraduate training towards the BSE Adult Accreditation (Written Exam)).
- Environmental Health Technicians: are involved with the promotion of and the maintenance of health and the prevention of disease. This includes advising on all aspects of environmental health, occupational hygiene and environmental protection, both in barracks and under field conditions. Environmental Health Technicians work in a small team that advises Headquarters or as part of a medical field unit. Phase 2 training is 2 years, at the Defence Medical Services Training Group at Keogh Barracks near Aldershot. Successful completion of training leads to the Foundation Degree Science in Environmental Health, NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and a BPCA Certificate in Pest Control.
- Combat Medical Technician: have advanced life-saving skills and use them to help trauma patients both in peacetime and during conflict. They also provide healthcare to Army personnel. Combat Medical Technicians work in challenging situations close to the front line. Phase 2 training is 27 weeks, at the Defence Medical Services Training Group at Keogh Barracks near Aldershot. On successful completion of this level of training, individuals are eligible for the City and Guilds Certificate (5403 Scheme) in Primary Healthcare. The Diploma in Emergency and Primary Health Care 1023 can be undertaken once the certificate has been obtained.
Royal Army Dental Corps
The Royal Army Dental Corps (RADC) is responsible for the maintenance of the British Army’s dental health. RADC personnel serve in dental centres, in many locations throughout the world, but they are soldiers too, and have a role within field hospitals during military operations.
The Army Dental Officer (ADO) is responsible for the maintenance of the British Army’s dental health, which is recognised as being an important part of the overall medical fitness required for all servicemen and women.
ADOs have a considerable degree of clinical freedom to carry out the particular course of treatment that is felt necessary for the patient. The choice of treatment is based on clinical considerations rather than being restricted by the financial dictates of general dental practice.
The Army Medical Services Entry Officers Course, covering a total of approximately 14 weeks, is where dental and other professionally qualified officers are taught their role in the Army and given basic military, survival and weapon handling skills.
- Dental Nurse: is trained to assist the Dentist at the chair-side and to perform administrative duties within a Dental Centre. Basic training (14 weeks at Pirbright) teaches essential combat skills such as survival and weapons handling, and boosts general fitness. After this students study dental nursing, including anatomy, physiology, surgery and infection control. Studetns also learn to prepare dental materials, give advice on disease prevention and process x-rays, culminating with the national dental nurse exam.
- Dental Hygienist: is required to carry out treatment and provide dental health education to individuals and groups.
Royal Army Veterinary Corps
The Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) are deeply involved with all aspects of military animal activity, from ceremonial duties with the Household Cavalry or The King’s Troop RHA (Royal Horse Artillery) to the procurement, training and maintenance of Military Working Dogs and their subsequent use in UK and operational theatres.
The RAVC currently has a huge role to play in Afghanistan, providing the handling and training expertise for a range of Military Working Dog (MWD) classifications working in the Force Protection and Search spheres. Veterinary Officers use their expertise to maintain the health and welfare of the MWDs provide advice on zoonotic disease and environmental health matters as well as working with the Provincial Reconstruction Team on Veterinary Engagements/Teaching Initiatives.
Veterinary Officers play a vital role and experience many of the animal health issues seen in everyday life, plus specific aspects of military veterinary medicine. Officers go on operations and provide advice on a range of issues, including animal employment, disease control, zoonotic disease and biosecurity.
After an induction course at the Defence Animal Centre, officers undertake clinical placements and a Basic Dog Handling course. Several military skills courses are next, followed by clinical rotations and more specific veterinary courses. During an officer’s first posting they enrol in the RCVS Cert AVP.
- Veterinary Technician: look after sick and injured animals, primarily dogs and horses, and support Veterinary Officers in their treatment at home and on operations. Veterinary technicians also manage veterinary equipment, report signs of ill health and provide nursing support for hospitalised animals. After completing the Basic Dog Handler’s Course, you will attend a course designed specifically for Veterinary Technicians. It teaches everything from animal anatomy to nursing skills such as bandaging, administering treatment and monitoring animals’ health.
- Dog Handler/Trainer: are skilled soldiers who work with Military Working Dogs wherever the Army is deployed. Initially, work is with protection dogs, responsible for the security and safety of strategic assets and bases. Later on handlers can be selected to handle specialist dogs capable of detecting of arms and explosives.
The Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps
Army Nurses and Healthcare Assistants can find themselves in Medical Regiments and Field Hospitals dealing with a myriad of different casualties many with poly traumas.
Postings vary from Ministry of Defence Hospital Units, Primary Health Care, Field Hospitals, Close Support Medical Regiments, General Support Medical Regiments, instructor posts (both military and academic courses), recruiting, management and staff (administrative).
Currently Army Nurses are based and deployed in, UK, Germany, Cyprus, Canada, Poland, Brunei, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan.
In order to be eligible to apply for a commission as a nursing officer (either in Adult Health or Mental Health) in the QARANC, nurses need to be a qualified nurse with 2 years full time experience and under the age of 39 years. As part of a multi-disciplinary team, Nursing Officers are responsible for planning and delivering nursing care to civilian and military personnel. Nursing officers lead a team of nurses based in a primary or secondary healthcare unit, or work as an autonomous practitioner overseas.
- Registered Nurses (Adult Health or Mental Health): If an applicant is about to qualify or is registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (RN(A) Level 1) and is under the age of 32 years and 11 months, then they will be eligible to apply to become a Registered Nurse Soldier in the QARANC.
- Student Nurses (Adult or Mental Health): If applicants meet the academic entry requirements and are aged between 17 years and 6 months and 32 years and 11 months (on commencement of Phase 1 basic military training) then they will be eligible to apply for student nurse training with the QARANC. Students train at Birmingham City University on a Degree in nursing course. The educational programme takes place in a variety of clinical settings, preparing students for all aspects of military nursing care.
- Healthcare Assistant (HCA): There are, currently, no education requirements to be a HCA in the Army but applicants must be between 17 years and 6 months and 32 years and 11 months (on commencement of Phase 1 basic military training). HCAs work alongside the Registered Nurses.