We have come a long way since it all began in 1980 from a converted boat shed in Plymouth
In the Beginning
The Diving Diseases Research Centre (‘DDRC’) was set up from a small unit founded in converted boat sheds, run by volunteers, at the Fort Bovisand diving school in Plymouth, as a facility to treat divers with decompression illness (DCI), or ‘the bends’. In 1980 DDRC became a registered charity with a remit to research the effects of the undersea environment on human physiology and to use this information to educate divers. Later the objectives were extended to include the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO) on radiation tissue damage and problem wounds, as well as educating and training personnel in the medical, clinical and diving industries.
In 1996, DDRC moved into a purpose built site adjacent to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. The Hyperbaric Medical Centre was the first resident of the now extensive Plymouth Science Park. Two-storey building provides training, treatment and research facilities and houses the two Comex chambers which were in use at Fort Bovisand along with a new larger Krug multi-place chamber and a monoplace chamber.
Expansion into Wales
In 2008, the South Wales Hyperbaric Medical Centre was set up with a single monoplace chamber in St Josephs Hospital in Newport. After two years, demand for the service had increased to such a level that the unit was forced to expand, which meant relocation in 2010. The Spire Cardiff Hospital was able to offer a much larger site, capable of supporting two monoplace hyperbaric chambers. The new facility in Pentwyn near Cardiff, is a major step forward for patients needing hyperbaric oxygen therapy in South Wales and the West of England.
DDRC Professional Services was established in 1999, allowing us to provide training and consultancy services, which did not fall under our charitable remit. This wholly owned trading subsidiary of the charity then gifts any surpluses back to the charity.
In 2010 we celebrated our 30 Year Anniversary with a range of activities and events, including a 30 mile sponsored cycle ride.
A new trading subsidiary, Plymouth Wound Care, was created in 2011 and launched in 2012, enabling us to bring specialist wound care treatment to patients, not linked to use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Currently this service is not available via the NHS but we are working to enable future NHS referrals.
In 2013 it was time for the organisation to evolve, to reflect the width of services now being offered and the changing environment. We adopted the new name of DDRC Healthcare, and a new visual identity. Although the name ‘Diving Diseases Research Centre’ was no longer deemed entirely appropriate, we felt it was important to acknowledge and build on all our history, and so ‘DDRC’ was incorporated into the new name.