Working at MDHUs - Opinions wanted!

Its the time of year to be choosing locations for Foundation 1 jobs for people graduating in 2010. I've been given the choice of the following:

Northallerton (North Yorkshire)
Peterborough (RAF WITTERING)
West Midlands (Solihull and/or Selly Oak)
Frimley Park (Camberley, Surrey)
Queen Alexandra (Cosham, Portsmouth)
Derriford (Plymouth)

Rather keen to avoid being stuck with the Crabs but open to advice otherwise. Anyone with any experience of working at any of the above establishments, I'd be very pleased to hear your opinions - both on the working environment and how it is to live in ther area in general. Especially from junior doctors but it'd be great to get some decent gen from nursing staff, HCAs, anyone! PM if you don't want to express any 'heartfelt' opinions in public!
I realise that I may be better off asking about Portsmouth and Plymouth on RR but I understand there are a fair few Army personnel there too!
I think I'd enjoy a fairly 'green' (or in my case, 'dark blue') environment as I joined up to escape the NHS as much as possible. Interested in trauma and orthopaedics in particular but I know that this doesn't really matter until after GDMO jobs.

Thanks everyone, C.


If your navy then there are no qualified Navy nurses at MDHU(N) i have seen a few studdent here IIRC in the past


Book Reviewer
If interested in trauma and orthopaedics in particular then why not try Selly Oak - where all our guys go when they are wounded.
c0kecan said:
If your navy then there are no qualified Navy nurses at MDHU(N) i have seen a few studdent here IIRC in the past
Just to clarify, I'll be a junior doc rather than a nurse.
I'm open to opinions from all 3 services - I posted this on ARRSE because I thought I'd get a far greater depth of response about Frimley Park and Northallerton from Army types. We're all doing the same job in the end (at least, in the NHS side of things) and green/light blue experiences and opinions are as valid as Navy ones.

Legs - yep, that's a factor for sure. But if its a rubbish place to work/live, I'd rather take my chances elsewhere - specialist training takes place after my foundation program so its not vital that I get stuck into battlefield trauma right from the get-go. :)
Frimley is OK, very busy, good range of specialities, exercises with 22 Fd Hosp and the Mess is fairly decent as far as Officers Messes go.


Sorry my mistake, i have seen some navy docs knocking about :p

A good range of specialities here at Northallerton and James cook is only up the road and part of the trust and offers everything you could want. Also have regional spinal centre and trauma centre covering a vast area

Unit wise socailly alot always on and military training availiable also.

The unit has recently moved into a brand new mess in Catterick

South Tees Website said:
One of Europe’s most modern hospitals, The James Cook University site is the largest of its type and has a wide range of specialities. This hospital was opened in October 2003 and has a capacity of 1,007 beds. Based on the original site of South Cleveland Hospital, all acute and elective medical and surgical specialties are accommodated. Tertiary services, in addition to cardiology and cardiac surgery, include renal medicine/haemodialysis, neurosurgery, vascular surgery and the regional spinal injuries unit.

This site contains a modern central operating suite containing 19 well-equipped theatres, with two recovery areas. This is immediately adjacent to an adult surgical day unit containing a further three theatres and also to the paediatric day unit. The 16-bedded general ICU is across the corridor. Two additional theatres for gynaecology and obstetrics are in the central delivery suite and two more in the ophthalmology day unit.

The accident and emergency department on this site is the designated regional trauma centre for Teesside, South Durham and North Yorkshire. The hospital has a 24-hour acute admissions unit.

There is a 21 room imaging department equipped with a full range of mainly digital modalities, a trust-wide PACS system and a purpose built 6 bed radiology day unit. A medical physics department is also on this site together with isotope imaging.

The central clinical laboratory provides a comprehensive pathology service with electronic links to wards and departments. Electronic requesting is being piloted.

There is a purpose-built endoscopy centre.

The hospital has a comprehensive tertiary level fertility service which is also under the remit of the gynaecological cancer centre, the Cancer Care Alliance of Teesside, South Durham and North Yorkshire.

The hospital caters for just over 5,000 deliveries in purpose built delivery and low dependency suites. The birth rate is increasing. Fetal medicine and high dependency delivery referrals are accepted.

There is a regional tertiary neonatal intensive care unit with 9 intensive cots, which accepts both local and regional admissions. It supports a neonatal transport service and has a strong academic record. Any babies born at the Friarage hospital (c1100 deliveries per year) requiring intensive care are transferred to this unit.

There is an established academic centre embracing postgraduate medical education, nurse training school, the school of radiography and library facilities. It encompasses two large lecture theatres with the latest audio-visual aids and a considerable number of classrooms and seminar rooms, including ward facilities for teaching and examining. There is a new library with comprehensive IT suite.

A dedicated undergraduate teaching centre has been commissioned recently and there are plans to have a dedicated simulation-training centre on site in the near future.
Wow, thanks for the input C0kecan. What's the atmosphere like there? I've heard of the military staff being screwed over by civvy managers WRT leave etc.
I doubt that here is the place for C0kecan to tell you things like that, what with him probably still working there.
F1 jobs are all about the NHS training programme, so you are stuck with that I'm afraid, whether in an MDHU or not.

In my experience of two MDHUs, the least seen form of animal life in the respective Service Messes was doctors, especially livers-out. "Service Ethos" is often used as a reason to dis MDHUs, but it is always dependent on Servicemen and -women getting their collective fingers out and ensuring that the reasons we all joined stay alive. Believe me, Service consultants are very rare sights in Service Messes!

As for trauma, you'll see a bit in any of the MDHUs, but Selly Oak and the James Cook are trauma centres and Selly Oak gets some pretty good city centre stuff, mainly involving sharp things. Portsmouth, Frimley Park and Derriford are more like big Medical Assessment Units, with the occasional road traffic sequelae.

Giving my roots away, go for whichever provides the best run-ashore!
Filbert Fox said:
I doubt that here is the place for C0kecan to tell you things like that, what with him probably still working there.
Very true but that's why we have PMs, like I said in the original message.

Thanks Languid_Doc!
Right so, I'm trying to get a list of personal pros and cons going and so far its looking like:

Northallerton/James Cook: PRO - Trauma centre, familiar territory to me (dirty northern monkey/Geordie), new mess in Catterick, lots of Mil stuff available. CON - Rumours of disparity between civvy and mil staff, being in Middlesbrough/very quiet market town of Northallerton.

Frimley Park: PRO - Busy, very nice area. CON - Expensive to live(?), far from the sea, overrun with green types :p

Derriford: PRO - Navy oriented, big hospital, excellent wardroom in HMS Drake, probably will end up there at some point anyway, plenty of mil activity. CON - Less of the exciting stabby stuff compared to Brum and Boro, not the best night out.

Portsmouth: Pretty much the same as Derriford but with an even bigger hospital and a truly tri-service environment. Is Plymouth any worse or better than Pompey as a town?

Selly Oak: PRO - Excellent trauma opportunities, receiver for battlefield casualties, apparently a good hospital to work in, as is Solihull. CON - You have to live in Brummistan.

Now, obviously, the above is mostly conjecture and what I've pieced together from several enquiries. If you disagree, please feel free to put me right!
Of course, I just 'turn up' these days.

As an FP doc, the Northallerton/James Cook rotation is a good selection of jobs. No T&O F2 position though (not at present anyway), though as you rightly state, not an issue at present.
As a junior doc, there is no difference between you and the civvy ones. As far as you go, there will be no "attitude" towards you as a military type. Leave wise, you get your annual leave, though there will be basically no opportunity for AT, unless you use your annual leave. This is technically due to the FP itself not having any leeway for time out of the programme, as it is all "training". Other MDHUs I believe have managed to wangle this for the FP docs, I have no direct knowledge.
New mess is much improved over the last one! It will be what you make it and depends who else is living in. Docs can be a rare sight around the Mess, even if living-in. This is due to working full shifts, having no dedicated Mil time and being full time clinical. The other health professions have very different contracts vis a vis the NHS.
Summary - you will be a regular FP doc, though better paid. Living in the Mess will be useful prep for EOC. You will wear uniform for some rotations, not for others. You can do Mil stuff but it will require a considerable effort on your part. The jobs are good groundings and the Trust is a tertiary centre as detailed in previous posts.

Cheers singletrack, that's cleared a few things up!

Don't go to Selly Oak.

If I was recovering from losing limbs etc, the last person I'd want treating me is a creature like you Carcass!!


War Hero
Answering on hubbies log in.

Have worked at both Derriford and Portsmouth as SHO on a surgical rotation. Lots of all 3 forces around and both good experience (even for a civvie like me who knew nothing of the military til decanted into Plymouth). Personally I loved working at Derriford - has a much better mess, the town is friendlier, the juniors seemed to get on a lot better and I gained a lot of from working there. In a contest between the two I would choose Derriford every time.

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