More than 1,100 Service personnel will be based at the new site, delivering high quality medical support to the Armed Forces.
A turf-cutting ceremony on Friday, 30 September 2011, marked the start of construction work which will provide new state-of-the-art training facilities including a learning centre, lecture theatre, living accommodation for permanent staff and trainees, and a junior ranks dining and welfare facility.
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) will deliver the £138m complex which will establish the West Midlands as the central focus for the Defence Medical Services (DMS).
Whittington is the headquarters of the DMS and the new facilities will bring 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.
Surgeon Vice Admiral Philip Raffaelli, Surgeon General of the Defence Medical Services, said:
My headquarters has been in DMS Whittington now for over a year and I have been hugely impressed by the warm welcome we have received from the local community.
The expansion of Whittington Barracks which commences today will ensure that DMS personnel will receive the best possible training and preparation for operations in state-of-the-art facilities.
The continued investment in the West Midlands that is demonstrated by this project reflects the importance that is placed on delivering the highest quality healthcare to our Service personnel at home and on operations around the world.
DIO, the estates arm of the MOD, has contracted Carillion UK Construction to deliver the project.
David Lawson, the project manager from DIO, added:
DIO’s top priority is to support our Armed Forces. This marks the start of the construction phase that will, over the next three years, convert the former Whittington Barracks into a state-of-the-art medical training centre.
The project is an excellent example of how DIO works in partnership with industry as it seeks to optimise investment and support military capability to best effect.
Carillion will also be working closely with Debut, who will be providing accommodation for 859 personnel under Project SLAM (Single Living Accommodation Modernisation), which will all be undertaken within the same timeframe.
Richard Lumby, Carillion’s Managing Director responsible for defence works, said:
We are delighted to see the start of the construction phase of this development and look forward to working with DIO to provide state-of-the-art facilities which will provide essential services for our servicemen and women for years to come.
Graham Jeffery, Director for Debut, Project SLAM, added:
Debut are pleased and proud to be working in partnership with Defence Medical Services, DIO and Carillion on this prestigious project, which is key to the transformation of how medical services are delivered to the Armed Services.
It will significantly add to the 17,000 bedspaces already delivered by Project SLAM since 2003 and is a further demonstration of collaborative working under the DIO prime contracting initiative.
Key consideration is being given to the heritage of the Victorian buildings on site, as well as the semi-rural settings, which include the flora and fauna within the MOD establishment. Disruption to surrounding areas will also be kept to a minimum, as new roads are constructed around the outskirts of the site.
DIO is part of the Ministry of Defence. It is responsible for managing and maintaining land and properties to meet the current and future needs of the MOD and personnel at home and abroad, and to support current operations.
The DMS is staffed by around 10,000 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.