A Falkland Islands hospital is looking for an NHS partner because of defence cuts.

King Edward Memorial Hospital, Port Stanley, is looking for an NHS trust to provide a surgical team to replace a military field hospital pulling out because of cutbacks.

The hospital will be inviting bids for an eight-strong team, including a surgeon and anaesthetist, radiographer, technicians and support staff.

General manager Derek Muhl said he was confident an NHS hospital could rise to the challenge of providing a team on a rolling six-month rota.

'This would be a commercial agreement, but I would emphasise that this is an opportunity for a trust to offer staff something that is not going to cost them a penny.

'It might actually help recruitment and retention in the UK because staff would get to work in a totally different environment.

'And we would provide a holiday at the end of the rotation. We are only a few hours' flight from Chile and there is brilliant fishing and bird watching on the Falklands.'

A military field hospital has been provided for the islands since the Falklands War in 1982. It is set to pull out in mid-2000 as part of a restructuring of the defence medical services.

The King Edward is a dedicated 32-bed mini-district general hospital which serves 2,500 civilians and 2,000 military personnel.