Perspectives on the National facility

The idea of a National facility – or National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) – treating NHS patients was part of the DNRC concept from the outset.  Indeed, it was the Secretary of State for Defence at the time (Des, now Lord, Browne), when supporting the opportunity the Duke of Westminster was proposing to create a successor to Headley Court, at the same time asked him to ‘do something for the Nation too’.  He asked because he had just read Dame Carol Black’s Report on the health of the working population of the nation where she highlighted the low rate of returning injured people to work in this country compared with much of Europe.  Des Browne knew that, by contrast, Defence had the expertise to achieve very high return to work rates and he felt that it should be shared with the nation.

The 6th Duke of Westminster agreed to do what he asked and what emerged in mid-2009 was the idea of a Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (a DNRC) which became a formal project in 2010 and has involved the relevant government departments ever since.

In the 2018 Budget, government pledged £70M to finance the capital cost of building the patient care element.  The R&D and wider innovation & education aspects make up the whole of what would give the NRC regional, national and international significance.

In this series of short videos, we hear from a number of people with powerful perspectives on the opportunity that an NRC – alongside the Defence facility now treating patients on the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation estate – would deliver.

With the public consultation on the NRC running between 27 July and 18 September 2020 and inviting feedback on the proposals for patient care, first we hear from Sandy Walsh, Physio & Major Trauma Rehabilitation Case Manager, with her views on the facility and the benefits it would provide.

The environment in which clinical rehabilitation care is delivered makes a significant difference. Now we hear from Senior Physiotherapist, Clare Donnellan, about the impact of environment, setting, design and architecture on outcomes and for the patient.

Here, Miriam Duffy, NRC Programme Director, speaks on the wider aspects of the NRC Programme which include R&D, training and education, bringing academic and research partners together. This will also provide opportunities for the staff at the NRC to develop some really good research and innovation.

With the NRC in the hands of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust as the ‘NHS sponsor’ for the Business Case, now we hear from its Chief Executive, Tracy Taylor:


Adam Brooks is a trauma surgeon and Director of the East Midlands Major trauma centre.  He operates on seriously injured patients and is one of the country’s leading experts based at NUH who deals with complex cases and, frequently, life-threatening injury.  Adam has also worked with the Armed Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, in South Africa, Australia and the USA and therefore has an informed view of the effects of major injury, however those injuries arise – whether from an IED in Helmand or, closer to home, a road traffic accident on the M1.

Here he talks about the criticality not just of saving lives at the point of injury but, looking beyond that, the importance of skilled rehabilitation.


Piera Santullo is a rehabilitation consultant working in NUH.  Piera has great ideas on how we can produce better functional outcomes for patients from her experience from working in Italy earlier in her career.  She has a valuable perspective on the NRC opportunity and need for improvement in how clinical rehabilitation is delivered.  She focuses on enabling effective rehabilitation among a broad range of patients who come to NUH in expectation of being looked after.  

Daren Forward is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and Major Trauma consultant at NUH.  He operates on patients often presenting the most complex of skeletal fractures.  Daren has also worked in the USA at Shock trauma, Baltimore.  Re-setting bones is just one part of the job to return badly injured patients to fitness.

Here Daren speaks of the benefits of sharing expertise and facilities between the Defence establishment and the NHS facility on the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate and why that will make a crucial difference to service provision and, more importantly, to the lives of those patients involved.


Allan Cole is an anaesthetist and a recent recipient of complex trauma care – he was severely injured in a gliding accident and needed comprehensive surgery and support.

Now, returned to work, he shares his view from both ends of the telescope – as healthcare professional and as patient.

Kate Philp was injured by an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2008.  As a result of her injury, she made the difficult decision to have her lower left leg amputated, knowing that, as a serving member of the Armed Forces, she would benefit from a full rehabilitation programme.  For her, it was a decision based on confidence, the confidence that she would be expertly repaired within Defence medicine.

Kate speaks from experience.  She knew she would bounce back.  The NHS treatment and care that would be offered at the National Rehabilitation Centre could give others similar confidence to overcome accident, injury and set back like Kate.