Royal Navy Medical Service (RNMS)
Royal Navy Medical Service (RNMS)
Preceded by Victualling Board
Country United Kingdom
Founded 1692
Abolished Active
Headquarters Whitehall, London, England
Role Management of Marine Pay
Affiliations Royal Navy
Parent Department navy-department-mod
Succeeded None

The Royal Navy Medical Service originally called the Naval Medical Service was established in 1832 it is the Medical Branch of the Royal Navy responsible for medical care. It works closely with Queen Alexandras Royal Naval Nursing Service. The service is currently administered by the Medical Director-General (Naval).

1) History

Rules concerning the treatment of medicine at sea were listed as early as the 14th century when they appeared in the Black Book of the Admiralty. From the early 17th century an associatiuon barber-surgeons was created in order to train ship surgeons for the navy. A more formalised body was created in 1692 when treatment for sick and wounded naval personnel at seaport hospitals was administered by the Commissioners of the Sick and Hurt Board (a subsidiary body of the Navy Board) until 1806, when medical officers of the Royal Navy had been under the direction of the Transport Board. In 1817 the Transport Board was combined with the Navy Board, and responsibility for medical officers passed to the Victualling Board. In 1832 the two remaining bodies of the Royal Navy (the Navy Board and the Victualling Board) were abolished following recommendations by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir James Graham. Now a new Physician of the Navy, reporting to one of the members of the Board of Admiralty, was put in charge of the navy medical department; the title of this post was changed to Physician-General of the Navy in 1835, then to Inspector-General of Naval Hospitals and Fleets in 1841, and then to Director-General of the Medical Department of the Navy in 1844. In 1879 the offices of the Director-General were located at 9 New Street, Spring Gardens, London. In 1917 following further re-structuring within the Admiralty Department it became known as the Royal Navy Medical Service headed by Medical Director General of the Navy until 2002 when it was re-styled once more to Medical Director General (Naval); the MDG Naval currently reports to Second Sea Lord and Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff.

2) Ceremonial Head

  1. Commodore-in-Chief, Royal Navy Medical Service HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, GCVO

3) Operational Head

  1. Medical Director-General (Naval).

2) Current structure

The medical branch today is made up of Medical Officers (physicians) and non-commissioned officers and ratings as medical assistants, who receive similar training to paramedics. Nursing services are provided for the navy by the QARNNS which works alongside the Medical Service, but is a separate organisation. In total, 1,522 personnel are employed by the service.

It is currently commanded by Commodore Inga J Kennedy CBE QHNS QARNNS, the Medical Director General (Naval); MDG(N) and Chief Naval Medical Officer.

The honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the RNMS is Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. In her role as Commodore-in-Chief, the Duchess visited the training-establishment HMS Excellent in January 2012, to award medals to naval medical teams returning from service in Afghanistan.

All ranks of the medical branch provide medical care afloat as well at naval shore establishments and with the royal marines.

Medical Assistants
Medical Assistants are deployed on all major warships and submarines of the Royal Navy, and provide primary care to the crew. They also have the role of training the crew in first aid.[4] Capital ships often carry non-commissioned medical technicians as part of the larger medical department, who perform laboratory work to aid the medical assistants and officers.[5]

Medical Assistants both male and female provide medical close support and shore side medical care to all Units of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.

All medical assistants are ranked in the same manner as other ratings.

Medical Officers
Capital ships (including aircraft carriers, LPHs) have separate medical departments permanently staffed by one or two medical officers, but they are embarked temporarily on smaller vessels when on a long operational tour. Medical officers are ranked in the same manner as other officers, but wear red stripes between the gold on their epaulets, and have the title 'Surgeon' added to their rank (Surgeon Lieutenant for example). Although royal navy medical officers are qualified doctors, they do not use the Dr prefix, like those in other British military medical organisations.

3) Current Components

3.1) Training

  1. Institute of Naval Medicine (1969-current)

4) Former Components of the Royal Navy Medical Service

4.1) Hospitals

  1. Royal Naval Hospital (RNH) was a hospital operated by the British Royal Navy for the care and treatment of sick and injured naval personnel. A network of these establishments were situated across the globe to suit British interests. They were part of the Royal Naval Medical Service from 1701 to 1995.

4.2) Training

  1. Naval Medical School Greenwich
  2. Royal Naval Medical School (1949-1969)

5) Sources


6) Attribution

  1. Red Cross image By Jon Harald Søby - Own work based on: Kruckenkreuz Ständestaat Österreich.svg:, Public Domain,
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