Military Medical Centre a Tonic for the Troops; Lean Operation: Princess Inspects New NHS Base for Armed Forces

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Byline: Jenny Hudson Health Correspondent

The Princess Royal yesterday opened the National Centre for Defence Medicine in Birmingham - setting the official seal on a project originally conceived by her husband.

Commander Tim Laurence, a top-ranking naval officer, had recommended that military personnel would benefit by working alongside NHS colleagues in a large city hospital.

University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust overcame stiff competition from 18 teaching hospitals to develop the centre, which is the first of its kind in the country.

The pounds 30 million NCDM project will lead British military medical training and research, with up to 1,000 Army, Navy and RAF personnel based at Selly Oak Hospital.

Cmdr Laurence said: 'I hope that wherever military personnel are posted in the world, they will see this centre in Birmingham as their home.'

Yesterday, the military took charge of a 36-bed ward in Selly Oak Hospital. They also have military headquarters there to develop training, teaching and research.

Between 300 and 1,000 military casualties will be transported to the hospital from their postings around the world each year.

Experts at the centre will also work closely with the University of Birmingham to carry out key research.

However, civilians are also being treated on the military ward and staff from the forces have been helping to ease pressures in the hospital's accident and emergency department since they arrived last September.

Trust chief executive Mark Britnell said: 'At its zenith, there will be 800 to 1,000 military personnel working in the trust.

'That is a huge increase in staffing, with Birmingham residents benefiting from highly trained military personnel. …