SIXTY Territoral Army medics from the North-East are to be deployed on a four month tour of duty in October to help operate a field hospital in Afghanistan.

The medics are from 201 Field Hospital, which is based in Fenham, Newcastle, and has detachments in Newton Aycliffe, Carlisle and Norton on Teesside.

In civilian life they work in hospitals and other health care facilities across the region.

The Field Hospital they are to run in Afghanistan is based at Camp Bastion in the dangerous Helmand Province, which has seen battles between British troops and the Taliban.

It has most of the departments of an NHS hospital including operating theatres, two 25 bed wards, accident and emergency, physiotherapy, X-Ray and CT scanning.

More than 120 members of 201 Field Hospital have served on individual deployments in recent years to support operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, but this is the first time since the Second World War that they have deployed as an entire unit.

The field hospital they will form will be commanded by Colonel Ian Goulbourne, who in civilian life is a leading consultant surgeon on North Tyneside.

His second-in-command will be Lieutenant Colonel Sharon McDowell, a senior nurse from South Tyneside.

The hospital's nurses will be commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Gary Maltby, also from South Tyneside.

Col Goulbourne said: "We are pleased and honoured to have been chosen for this vitally important task.

"We are also aware of the potential dangers and a key part of our training is to ensure the safest possible environment for patients and staff.

"I know that we have a very good team deploying and that they will do an excellent job for the service men and women in their care.

"Being away from our loved ones, especially at Christmas, is an added burden - for us and them - but it will make our January homecoming all the more special."