Charity Number: 279652

Underwater blue sea Diving Doctor Clair Ashford diving with colourful fish

20 July 2018

Meet The Team – Dr Clair Ashford, Scuba Diver and Diving Doctor

Encouraging people to safely and confidently explore the underwater world is a key driver for Dr Clair Ashford, Hyperbaric Physician, Diving Doctor and now Medical Director at DDRC Healthcare. She grew up in London but has since happily converted to life in Devon, working to combine two of her passions in life; diving and medicine.

Dr Ashford studied medicine at Cambridge University and Imperial College London, added a Postgraduate Certificate of Clinical Education and then became a Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Her work experience included diverse roles in General Practice, Emergency Medicine and Paediatrics.

Global Expedition Medicine & Diving

Dr Ashford lived and worked in Australia and New Zealand for a couple of years and has also enjoyed the challenge of stints as Expedition Doctor around the world. For example, in 2009 she worked as the Expedition Dive Site Doctor in Honduras for a marine research organisation and whilst there she completed her Dive Master qualification.

Diving has become a passion since her first dive in 2001 in Dahab, Egypt (although she didn’t like her head under water on day one!). Her interest and passion for diving soon grew and she went on to complete numerous PADI courses and qualifications including Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Dry Suit Diver and Rescue Diver.

Clair says “I love being underwater where it is peaceful. I enjoy watching multi-coloured fish going about their business. I do like diving on wrecks. My personal circumstances mean I am limited on my dive depths, but I still find that most of the stuff I am interested in can be found in the first 15m anyway.”

Dr Clair Ashford in scuba diving gear

Dr Clair Ashford: Medical Director at DDRC Healthcare

Medical Director of DDRC Healthcare

In 2013 Clair came to DDRC Healthcare to join the clinical team. She successfully completed her Level I Medical Examination of Divers, Medical Management of Diving Accidents and Illnesses (Competence in Diving Medicine) Level IIA and Introduction to Hyperbaric Medicine training courses. With her growing knowledge and experience she became a Senior Diving Doctor and a valuable member of the DDRC Healthcare Clinical Team.

Having had a long interest in teaching and clinical education she has taken an active role in delivering elements of DDRC training courses regarding diving and hyperbaric medicine for Physicians and Dive Medic Technicians (DMTs), and generally enjoying the academic nature of medicine.

DDRC Healthcare is a not-for-profit organisation and a UK registered charity, which collaborates with many clinical and academic organisations on international research trials. Dr Ashford has herself worked as an Investigator on some of our research programmes, including the hyperbaric medicine trials DAHANCA and HOPON.

In 2018, following the departure of Dr Christine Penny, DDRC Healthcare appointed Dr Clair Ashford as the new Medical Director. She heads up a Multi-Disciplinary Team based at hyperbaric units in Plymouth (England) and Wales. June 2019 Clair has taken some time out on maternity leave.

Dr Doug Watts will be the Acting Medical Director to cover her absence.

Why Do You Like Working as a Diving Physician?

As Dr Ashford explains;
“I like the academic nature of dive medicine. It’s understanding the basic physics and physiology, then the patho-physiology and applying principles of medical pathology to put it all together.  Put more simply, we fix people! They come in really sick sometimes and many can’t even walk, and they come back to see us on their motorbikes!”.