The St John and Red Cross Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) is a specialist organisation that has been providing an independent and confidential welfare service since 1943, to those in hospital, rehabilitation or recovery. DMWS have long held a reputation for its high standards of service, traditional values and cooperative working alongside Defence. The DMWS’ working alliance with the military medical services began during the Second World War as the Service Hospitals Welfare Service (SHWS), then subsequently the Services Hospital Welfare Department (SHWD) of the Joint Committee of the Order of St John and British Red Cross Society until the title changed to DMWS in April 2001 as a result of its incorporation into a company in its own right. The success of the welfare service provided psychosocial support during this time ensured its continuance after the cessation of hostilities.

DMWS have a profound understanding of the issues and challenges faced by those who provide 24/7 protection to the public. In addition, our knowledge and expertise rooted in operational experience places us perfectly to extend our service to other personnel who serve the nation and the community, such as Police.

The St John and Red Cross Defence Medical Welfare Service (known as DMWS) is a registered charity in England and Wales (1087210) and in Scotland (SC045460). Registered in England & Wales as a Company Limited by Guarantee. Co Reg no. 4185635.

Our Staff

DMWS would not function without its Welfare Officers who need to be dedicated and committed to providing total, holistic care and practical and emotional support when it is most needed by service users and their families. They are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds including health professionals, dependants and former military personnel with welfare experience.

Welfare Officers are trained in Mental Health First Aid and hold the Level 3 Diploma in Welfare Studies.

They are uniformed and deployable as well as professional, skilled and trained in the use of counselling skills- although they are not counsellors. They are experienced in working in medical environments in the UK, within the NHS, and overseas, and are dedicated to ensuring service users and relative interests are put first.

Why is there a need for the DMWS?

DMWS brings the Covenant between the Armed Forces and the Nation to life through its support of the wounded, injured and sick whilst under hospital care.  We know that our intervention can lead to a swifter discharge from hospital and a quicker recovery for the patient. 

DMWS’s Mission and Vision

Our Mission is: To provide a high-quality medical welfare service to those who serve the nation and the community when they are in the patient care pathway, in order to deliver capability and productivity.

Our Vision is: To be the primary provider of patient-centred welfare support within the clinical care pathway.


DMWS delivers an independent and impartial 24 hour specialist welfare service to serving Armed Forces personnel, Reservists, Veterans and their families, the Police, Emergency Services and other frontline services.

DMWS operates across the UK and overseas, supporting those who have put themselves on the frontline to serve our country.