John Major was still Prime Minister and the Spice Girls were the latest pop sensation when military medics moved in to Frimley Park Hospital in 1996.
Hospital staff and military colleagues are now looking back on 20 years of working in partnership caring for the local community.
The Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit (MDHU) was established at Frimley Park Hospital NHS Trust in February 1996. It followed a restructuring of military medical services away from standalone military hospitals, such as the Cambridge Military in Aldershot, to integrated units hosted by NHS acute trusts.
With its strong military ties to the Aldershot Garrison – the unofficial home of the British Army – and the world renowned Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, Frimley Park Hospital was the perfect fit for the new MDHU.
Initially personnel from the MDHU operated from their own wards within the hospital. But within a few years military medical personnel were working alongside NHS colleagues.
The current commanding officer Colonel Mike Ryan said: "The link between Frimley ark Hospital and the military is now firmly established. I believe it has been an excellent relationship based on trust and understanding of one another’s business."
In the two decades since the partnership was established Col Ryan said Frimley-based personnel has been involved in numerous actions, from Kosovo and Sierra Leone to Iraq and Afghistan, as well as supporting humanitarian missions such as the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Last year the MDHU changed its title to Defence Medical Group South East. A number of DMGs operate from NHS host hospitals across the country. The placement of military consultants and other military medical professionals provides them with the training and experience required for them to maintain professional standards.
The host units such at Frimley Park benefit from a wealth of military experience and a dedicated and professional workforce.
Andrew Morris, chief executive of Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, believes the military partnership has played a significant role in the success of Frimley Park Hospital, which in 2014 became the first in the country to be rated as ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.
“We share many common values and we learn from each other about best practice in delivering excellent care to our patients.
“The feedback we get from patients and their families is that they feel reassured by seeing military personnel working alongside Frimley Health NHS staff.
“This community has a long and proud association with the military. We feel privileged to host the DMG and long may our partnership continue.”