CORONAVIRUS – Support from the Society

We are working hard to support our seafarers during these difficult times and, as far as possible, it’s business as usual. During the Covid-19 crisis, and in line with other NHS services, all elective work at St Thomas’ Hospital using the Dreadnought Medical Service stopped.

However, the good news is that the NHS is now encouraging hospitals and GP’s surgeries, etc, to reopen as normally as possible – including for acute procedures.

Seafarers who need elective procedures can visit their GP or MCA-approved doctor to request a referral to the hospital via the Dreadnought Medical Unit. Those with existing referrals will be contacted directly by the hospital.

Unavoidably, there will be delays as normal service slowly resumes, but it is good news that the important medical services for seafarers upon whom the country and the economy rely, are slowly returning.

Dreadnought Medical Service

Call 020 7188 2049 or email

history_imageWhat is the Dreadnought?

The Dreadnought is a priority medical service for seafarers (and, in some cases, wives, husbands and children) based at Guy’s and 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 principal 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 nearly 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:
• Fishermen, 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 giving 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?

Many treatments are available, from dentistry to heart surgery.

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 more information about the Dreadnought Medical Service see our Fact Sheet by clicking here.


For all enquiries about the Dreadnought Medical Service, please contact:

Dreadnought Administrator
Dreadnought Medical Service
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital
Lambeth Palace Road
London SE1 7EH
020 7188 2049