Surgeon Captain Jo Keogh OBE


Jo Keogh was born in Wiltshire and educated in Scotland and Devon before studying Medicine at Kings College, University of London. She joined the Royal Navy in 1993, initially as a member of the London University Royal Navy Unit, subsequently being awarded a Medical Cadetship in 1996.

After initial posts as a junior doctor at Royal Hospital Haslar she spent several years in seagoing appointments in Type 22 and Type 23 Frigates (MONMOUTH, SHEFFIELD, CORNWALL and SOMERSET) and at HMS Drake and RNAS Yeovilton before returning to the NHS for basic surgical training located in Portsmouth and specialist radiology training in East Anglia.

Promoted to Surgeon Commander and appointed to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine as a Consultant Radiologist in 2010, her clinical interest lies in Trauma and Forensic Imaging. Jo subsequently deployed on Op HERRICK 14 with the UK Medical Group to Bastion Role 3 hospital in support of 3 Commando Brigade. Multiple further tours of Afghanistan followed with an extended period deployed between July 2012 and October 2013. Initially this was as the Chief Medical Planner at ISAF Joint Command in Kabul, with a subsequent clinical deployment at Bastion and six months working with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in close succession. She was recognised for her contribution to CENTCOM medical planning with the award of a US Defense Meritorious Service Medal in 2013.

In 2014 she was appointed OBE for her work in leading development of ANSF medical capabilities in Helmand. In the same year Jo took up appointment in PJHQ J4Med as the lead Medical planner for Op HERRICK. After successful transition to Op TORAL was achieved, in 2015 she led development of a novel first-aid training and equipment package for Ukrainian security forces at the outset of Op ORBITAL. This package was widely recognised as a high-profile success in meeting UK political intent, further developed her personal interest in the role of the Defence Medical Services (DMS) in Defence Engagement and Capacity building and initiated the development of an enduring and critical capability for Ukraine’s military.

Having completed Advanced Command and Staff Course 19, with award of an MA in Defence Studies, she joined Navy Command HQ in 2016 as SO1 Health Information Exploitation. This provided unexpected opportunities each underpinned by the requirement for data to drive innovation and involving multiple stakeholders. These included supporting Programme CORTISONE, Naval Service (NS) Personnel Capability projects and leading development of the inaugural NS Health and Wellbeing Strategy. Appointed to Joint Hospital Group (South West) she assumed Command in Plymouth in 2019 responsible for DMS secondary healthcare clinicians embedded within NHS hospitals across South West England. The following year she was proud to be listed in the Financial Times ‘2020 Kindness & Leadership, 50 Leading Lights in the UK’. After 1122 days leading her Unit through the Covid Pandemic and subsequent challenging times for the NHS, she was selected as Assistant Head Strategic Commissioning Team for the DMS and assumed this post in 2023. Appointed as a Board Member and Trustee of the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity in 2022 she retains her RN identity with pride. A member of the Op RESTORE Board since 2023 she is using her clinical and staff experience to support improvement to veterans’ health and those in transition from the Armed Forces.

Having completed a total renovation of a dilapidated Victorian house in Bath, Jo enjoys experimental cookery and photography while supporting a wide network of friends and her seven goddaughters; cycling and running help to compensate for the impact of these social activities.