Armed Forces Day – Andy’s story

In the third part of our run up to Armed Forces Day, we’ll be finding out Andy’s story. If you missed our first and second instalments, you can find the first part here and Chris’s story here.

This is Andy’s story.

Medical director at Peninsula Treatment Centre, consultant anaesthetist and former Royal Navy Doctor, Andy Burgess, tells us about his time serving in the military and what his plans are for Plymouth since taking up the MD post at Care UK.

“I’d always had an interest in the Royal Navy, I was actually in the Sea Scouts when I was at school, but I didn’t think about it seriously as a career until I was at medical school. I then joined [the Royal Navy] as a medical cadet and received sponsorship for my last couple of years at medical school.”

Andy had to serve a minimum of five years in the Royal Navy in return for his medical school sponsorship, but went on to serve 37 years in the military until his retirement at age 60.

“I was initially in frigates (a type of warship) until I started my anaesthetist training where I then did anaesthetics at Plymouth, Bristol and Sheffield. I was appointed as Deputy Principal Medical Officer (DPMO) while I was a senior registrar, and then took the PMO role on the HMS Ark Royal for two years, before I was appointed as a consultant in Plymouth in ’95.”

All the while, Andy held his commitment to training and deploying with Royal Marine surgical teams across the globe in countries such as Oman and Norway, and was deployed operationally to Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and three times to Afghanistan.

“On my last tour in Afghanistan I was Clinical Director and Medical Director on the last tour at the trauma Centre at Camp Bastion in Helmand. On my previous two deployments, in addition to acting as the Clinical Director, I provided medical support on the MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team) helicopter in 2011, picking up wounded personnel on the battlefield.

“I subsequently became head of all Military Anaesthesia (in the role of Defence Consultant Advisor) for three years before moving into the Military Clinical Director role, in Derriford and the South West, until my retirement.”

After leaving the Royal Navy, Andy kept his sea legs in check with regular fishing and yachting trips, “I did a bit of DIY, fly fishing for sea trout or boat fishing for sea bass, yacht racing in Antigua and competing in the 2017 Fastnet Race in Plymouth. I even went into teaching military personnel resuscitation.

“I then joined Care UK shortly after I retired from the Royal Navy as I wanted a change of scene. I initially started in April 2017 as a anaesthetist, but with my background I soon became involved with some management and clinical governance roles, and was recently appointed Medical Director for Peninsula.”

Andy feels he’s well supported by Care UK when it comes to his own mental health and military experiences, but wants to encourage an open environment not only for the veterans in his team at Peninsula, but for all veterans who may be affected by their time in the military, “I have been encouraged and supported by Care UK, but I don’t consider myself to have a problem with PTSD, although that is not to say I was not affected by some of my experiences – particularly Afghanistan. I was a different person after, but I had a good group of peers and colleagues to help me through.

“Having dealt with a significant number of seriously injured personnel, I obviously have strong feelings on the ongoing support, treatment and rehabilitation that our veterans receive. I have links to some of the organisations that help with this and am lucky that Care UK have given me leave to carry out some work in the Falkland Isles as sole anaesthetist for two and a half months later this year.

“I intend to make my mark while I am MD here at Peninsula, by improving standards, efficiency and quality as we enter what could easily become the busiest and most exciting period the treatment centre has ever had.”

Tomorrow in our final Armed Forces Day instalment, we’ll be finding out Leanne’s story.