Norfolk doctor joins major naval exercise

Sgn Cdr Raj Shah, from King's lynn, on board HMS Illustrious.

Sgn Cdr Raj Shah, from King's lynn, on board HMS Illustrious.


A Royal Navy doctor from Norfolk has deployed on HMS Illustrious, the UK’s high readiness helicopter and commando carrier to the Mediterranean.

Surgeon Commander Raj Shah, 53, from Kings Lynn, has joined naval colleagues on Exercise Cougar 12, a mission focused on combined amphibious operations as part of a future international high readiness force.

On this occasion, the Royal Navy will work with both the French and Albanian navies. For a recent exercise off the Corsican coast, Sgn Cdr Shah joined 16 other medical professionals including Navy specialist doctors, Army nurses and a biomedical scientist.

They set up a “role two” hospital designed to care for seriously injured patients between the frontline and a hospital ashore in friendly territory.

Sgn Cdr Shah is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and his expertise lies in bone and joint injuries, particularly following blast incidents.

“The role two environment is about damage limitation,” he said. “It is important we transfer the skills we have learned recently in places like Afghanistan to the maritime environment, so that we are ready for any contingency operations.

“I have been serving as a member of the role two medical team providing support to operations conducted by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.

“This kind of experience is invaluable and I’m certainly very proud to be part of the Royal Navy.”

After an initial period of settling into the ship and tending some straightforward practice “patients”, the team’s training will conclude with a mass casualty exercise, testing the medics, ship’s company and their equipment to the limits.

The team on board HMS Illustrious have the capability to handle concurrent very seriously injured casualties who are assessed by the trauma team and can then undergo treatment in a fully equipped operating theatre before being cared for on the critical care unit. The facility also has a transfusion service run by a biomedical scientist and has the capability to hold blood products.

Sgn Cdr Shah is married to Carol and has children Niki, 15, and Kieran, 14. He joined the Royal Navy in 2003. He has been deployed to Iraq three times and has also visited Dubai, The Seychelles, Spain and France.

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