It has been a real honour for the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) to welcome the new Prior of St. John today, ensuring the historical relationship between the two charities continues to grow. 

Nicky Murdoch, CEO of the St John and Red Cross Defence Medical Welfare Service, welcomed the new Prior of the Priory of England and the Islands of the Order of St John to DMWS Headquarters today. The meeting was an opportunity to brief him on developments within the organisation since he assumed his new appointment in June 2016.  Surgeon Rear Admiral Lionel Jarvis, CBE is very familiar with the work of DMWS having worked alongside them in hospitals across the UK and on deployment in the operational Role 3 hospital. 

DMWS has a long and rich history with St John having been established in 1943 by the Joint War Committee of St John and Red Cross.  As one of the Voluntary Aid Society’s, St John sees DMWS discharge responsibilities for supporting the Defence Medical Services during operations.  The development of DMWS in the last 2 years has also seen DMWS diversify to supporting the police which is also part of the remit of the Voluntary Aid Societies in supporting the emergency services at a time of crisis.  The knowledge and expertise of DMWS staff in supporting those members of the Armed Forces and Police Community when they are in hospital or the Clinical Care Pathway is rooted in their operational experience of service most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan but also in the highly pressurised environment of many hospitals. 


Surgeon Rear Admiral Lionel Jarvis, CBE at DMWS.

The provision of this support is delivered across the UK following a comprehensive needs assessment.  DMWS welfare officers work within the NHS, with health and recovery organisations in Defence and the Police and a wide range of charitable partners including Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion and the Police Firearms Officers Association and the Welfare Support Programme for the Police Federation of England and Wales.  Over 1, 000 000 patients and their families have been supported since 1943 and the support provided helps to improve the experience an individual has to deal with when admitted to hospital and also releases clinical staff to concentrate on their own core tasks. 

Nicky said “It was brilliant to be able to update The Prior on the progress of DMWS as an organisation and demonstrate how DMWS continues to personify the humanitarian principles of its forbears.  It is only right that we support those who put themselves in harm’s way for the nation when they are in need.  All of us in DMWS are very proud to do so.

At the beginning of the year DMWS was awarded with the Sovereign’s Medal of Merit from The Order of St John in recognition for its exceptional support to members of HM Forces, their dependents and others engaged by our Armed Forces through the provision of hospital welfare services in operational theatres around the world, in Germany, in Cyprus and in the United Kingdom.

DMWS and St John are looking forward to continue working together closely to provide medical welfare support to those in need.


About Surgeon Rear Admiral Lionel Jarvis (Chair)

Dr Lionel Jarvis was educated at Guy’s Hospital University of London, before joining the Royal Navy. Lionel has won many awards throughout his career and from 1993-2003 he was Commanding Officer of Royal Hospital Haslar.

Through a series of higher command posts in the UK Armed Forces, as well as deployed operational activity in a number of conflict areas, Lionel received operational medals from UK Government, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Kuwait. In 2006, he was appointed Honorary Surgeon to Her Majesty The Queen, which he held until 2012.

Dr Jarvis was admitted as Officer Brother of the Order of St John in 2012 and promoted to Knight of the Order in May 2016; from June 2016 he was appointed Prior of England and the Islands of the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem, and Chair of St John Ambulance.