Dreadnought Medical Service

What is the Dreadnought?

The Dreadnought is a priority medical service for seafarers (and, in some cases, wives, husbands and children) based at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

It is not a separate unit in the hospital — patients are treated in whatever ward or facility is best suited to their needs. The aim is to treat you as quickly as possible and allow you to return to work.

Why is it called the Dreadnought?

The Dreadnought was one of the original hospital ships set up by the Seafarers Hospital Society on the Thames at Greenwich after the Napoleonic wars.

That was 200 years ago. We still call it the Dreadnought but these days it’s part of the NHS and operates onshore rather than offshore.

Who can apply?

Working seafarers:

  • Fishers, merchant seafarers, pilots and tugboat men
  • Fishing vessel personnel
  • Trainees in the Merchant Navy or Cadets
  • Essential shipping company shore staff

Dependants of working seafarers:

  • A wife, husband or child under 18 whose illness is causing you serious concern


  • Retired seafarers (but not their dependants)
  • Working Union officials (but not their dependants)

How do I get treatment?

You need to be referred by letter, which your GP or approved company doctor will write. They will also have to fill in an information form. The letter and completed form are both sent to the Dreadnought Administrator (see Contacts below).

To get an information form to give to your GP or company doctor, contact the Dreadnought Administrator or download one here

What treatments are available?

A wide range of medical treatment is available to those eligible for the elective service, from dentistry to heart surgery. The aim is to treat you as quickly as possible to allow you to return to work at sea.

I can’t afford the fare. Can you help?

If you can’t afford the fare, you may be able to get help with the cost of travel. Contact patient transport services on 020 7188 2888 to see if you qualify for state help. If you don’t but are in financial need, the Seafarers Hospital Society (020 8898 3696) may be able to help.

What if I can’t use public transport?

If you can’t use public transport, contact patient transport services (020 7188 2888) who may be able to arrange ambulance or special transport, even outside London.

I need somewhere to stay before or after treatment

You can stay in accommodation at the hospital or nearby, at the Marine Society, at a subsidised rate. Contact the Dreadnought Administrator for more details (see Contacts below).

What happens if I need to convalesce?

You may be able to stay at the Springbok Estate in Surrey run by Care Ashore, but please note no personal or nursing care is provided. Contact the Dreadnought Administrator before you leave hospital.

I’m not happy with the care I got at the Dreadnought. What do I do?

Please write to the Dreadnought Administrator, who will take up your case with the hospital (see Contacts below).

For more information

For all information about the Dreadnought Medical Service contact the administrator directly Monday-Friday between 09.00-17.00 on 020 7188 2049 or 0207 188 2983 or Email : gst-tr.dreadnought@nhs.net

For Dental queries call the dentist directly Tuesday-Thursday between 09.00-17.00 on 020 7188 2047.


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Grants to seafarers

Life can be unpredictable, no matter how carefully you plan. Sudden illness, unexpected changes in circumstances, the loss of someone you love - can cause financial and emotional distress. That's where we come in. We can help with unpaid bills and grants for essential household goods, disability aids and equipment, and other expenses.

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