A medical marvel
13 March 2012
Andrew Eadon-Jones, Project Manager at Defence Infrastructure Organisation, details the development of DMS' state-of-the-art facilities at Whittington, Lichfield
The West Midlands has been established as the headquarters of the Defence Medical Services (DMS) for just over a year now, bringing together a full range of services and training with care for service operational casualties at the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.
The £138m Midlands Medical Accommodation (MMA) project is in its second phase and will see Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) deliver state-of-the-art teaching facilities and new housing accommodation for permanent staff, trainees and junior ranks, to enable all future training of military medics to be carried out at the headquarters at Whittington in Lichfield.
The DMS is staffed by regular uniformed and reserve medical personnel. It provides primary healthcare, dental care, hospital care, rehabilitation, occupational medicine, community mental healthcare and specialist medical care to over 180,000 servicemen and women.
A new head office building, Coltman House, was constructed during phase one and became operational in 2010. This houses the Surgeon General's (SC) strategic headquarters and those of the Joint Medical Command (JMC).
DIO has contracted Carillion UK Construction to deliver the MMA project, which is expected to be completed in early 2014. The Defence Medical Services Training Group (DMST) will then relocate from Aldershot, transforming the facility into a fully functional training building. The site will accommodate 1,400 people at any one time, of which 700 will be trainees.
The project involves the construction and refurbishment of offices, stores, welfare and catering facilities, classrooms, training rooms and lecture theatres for staff and trainees. Carillion will also be working closely with Debut, who will be providing accommodation for personnel under project SLAM.
The intention is to re-use a number of the existing buildings and construct a series of high-quality accommodation, teaching and mess facilities to retain the character of the barracks.
The retention of the Garrison Church of St George and the adjacent Marabout Hall will create a town square that will be utilised during events at the church.
The development site consists of the area within Whittington Barracks and an extension to the existing boundary at the eastern and western end of the site.
The project also calls for the construction of new roads around the outskirts of the site; creating a new main entrance; incorporating the historic Grade II listed Keep, including reinstating it to its original purpose as a gatehouse; and installing a new perimeter fence around the whole site. The existing main entrance off the A51 will be closed and a new approach to the Keep main entrance is in development. This change to the access requires a new road to divert around the museum with a new junction on the A51.
Sustainability is another important concern. Particular attention has been paid to the woodland and wildlife within the site and DIO has already worked with specialists to help ensure that existing habitats are protected or replaced appropriately.
Much of the existing flora is being retained, with new trees and hedges being planted to bolster existing planting. A heath land habitat is also being created around the northeast and southeast of the site. Additionally, a balancing pond is being provided as part of the development, in line with sustainable urban drainage, and will be planted up with aquatic plants.
The location of DMS Whittington in the heart of the West Midlands means that DMS staff will be able to work closely alongside the Medical Director's team and the clinical delivery elements of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, both based in nearby Birmingham.
The relocation of different parts of the JMC and SG organisation to Whittington brings together these services under one roof. JMC is responsible for the management of the military staff and patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, so by moving 250 staff into DMS at Whittington, the MMA project has already made a huge impact.
With injured troops being frequently flown into Birmingham, DMS staff have the constant responsibility of looking after injured servicemen and women. The co-location of a number of departments at DMS Whittington will not only help deliver a more efficient service, but will also truly place the West Midlands on the map for our armed forces.