LIFESAVING medical procedures can now take place on the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.
It comes after a Role 2 Surgical Team on board the warship was this week declared to have ‘full operational capability’ (foc).
The 18-strong group proved its mettle through a series of realistic exercises during the ship’s ongoing stay in the United States, where it is undertaking trials with test F-35B Lightning II jets.
Now, if the £3bn aircraft carrier ventures to an environment where there is a risk of a high number of casualties – or there is not time to evacuate someone on board who is critically-ill – the Role 2 surgical team can step in to provide potentially life-saving treatment.
Surgeon captain Christopher Streets, HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Role 2 afloat detachment commander, said the squad is primed to thrive in dangerous environments.
‘This is not new activity for us, we have a lot of experience in the team from operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and even during disaster relief on Op Ruman in the Caribbean last year,’ he said.
‘What is different, is the platform we are on. We’ve deployed the teams in Type 45 destroyers, the Bay class Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels, and now this incredible new carrier, setting the scene for the next 50 years of UK carrier strike activity.
‘For us the patient care pathway is the same, wherever we are based, it's just a case of learning whether to turn right or left to get to where we need to be.’
Read more: Who is the captain of HMS Queen Elizabeth?
The Role 2 team is made up of highly-trained surgeons, anaesthetists and specialist nurses – who spend time ashore honing their skills with the NHS.
It provides support to all ships in a task group, a system which was recently put to the test when HMS Monmouth evacuated a casualty to HMS Queen Elizabeth in an exercise.
The team can perform advanced resuscitation techniques – including damage control surgery – but it is not the only medical group on board.
HMS Queen Elizabeth has a permanent Role 1 team which ensures everyone on the ship receives first aid, GP and dental services wherever it is deployed.
And together, the two teams share a facility packed with lifesaving equipment.
HMS Queen Elizabeth has now arrived in the state of Virginia, for the next leg of its three-month trials.
As previously reported, the 65,000-tonne carrier left Portsmouth on August 18.