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Operation GRITROCK: the Defence Medical Services’ story and emerging lessons from supporting the UK response to the Ebola crisis
  1. Martin Bricknell1,
  2. T Hodgetts2,
  3. K Beaton3 and
  4. A McCourt4
    1. 1Ministry of Defence, Head Medical Operations and Capability, HQ Surgeon General, London, UK
    2. 2Medical Director, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
    3. 3Commander, 2nd Medical Brigade, Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Strensall, UK
    4. 4Normandy Barracks, Commanding Officer 22 Field Hospital, Aldershot, Hampshire, UK
    1. Correspondence to Brig Martin Bricknell, Ministry of Defence, Head Medical Operations and Capability, HQ Surgeon General, 6.E.08, Main Building, Whitehall, London SW1A 2HB, UK; martin{at}


    This paper is a record of the UK Defence Medical Services (DMS) contribution to the UK response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa from the start of planning in July 2014 to the closure of the Ministry of Defence Ebola Virus Disease Treatment Unit at the end of June 2015. The context and wider UK government decisions are summarised. This paper describes the decisions and processes that resulted in the deployment of a DMS delivered Ebola Treatment Unit in conjunction with the Department for International Development and Save the Children. It covers arrangements for medical care for disease and non-battle injury, the Air Transportable Isolator and Force Health Protection policy, and finally, considers the medical lessons from this deployment. The core message is that the UK DMS are the only part of the UK health sector that is trained, equipped, manned and available to rapidly deploy and operate a complete medical unit as part of an international response to a health crisis.


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