Thousands of troops injured in service are unable to perform frontline tasks

Thousands injured in service not getting treatment needed

04.10.2006

Military Injury ClaimsThe Daily Telegraph reports that the 5,000 injured in service are having to wait for treatment on the NHS while a military hospital, the Royal Hospital Haslar, in Gosport, Hampshire, is vastly underused.

But a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said it was because injured troops were convalescing, not because they were waiting for treatment, that they could not return to the frontline.

The MoD prefers the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham to Haslar hospital, sending injured troops there for initial treatment before they are referred to their local NHS hospitals and GPs.

Dr Peter Golding, a consultant at the 350-bed Haslar hospital, which is due to become a civilian hospital next March, said he was being sent two or three referrals a week, some travelling from Scotland and Germany, because their local hospitals "could not cope".

"It is an absolute scandal that those injured in service do not get the preferential treatment they need," he said.

Injured troops who are temporarily not fit for frontline duties are classed as P7R.

This means that they may only be able to perform administrative duties or similar tasks until they are fully fit again.

Dr Golding said it was "ridiculous" that injured troops were not treated in "one secure wing".

The former Royal Navy doctor said that 70 disillusioned military consultants had left the services in the past five years.

He said: "What we are seeing is that a large number of servicemen cannot be deployed on operations because of their injuries. But here at Haslar we have a fantastic set-up which is being ignored and is closing.

"There is no reason for P7R troops not to be taken through Haslar, but the military has set its heart on Selly Oak."

Between 2003 and last year, British troops in Iraq suffered 6,600 casualties.

Earlier this week the newspaper reported that a wounded paratrooper, injured in service, being treated at Selly Oak had been harangued by a Muslim visitor after being placed in a public ward.

The MoD said that Selly Oak's "excellent health care" and training opportunities could not be met at Haslar hospital.

Speaking to the Press Association, a MoD spokeswoman added that she could not confirm the 5,000 figure but said the "vast majority" of troops would not have been injured in a theatre of war, citing a car accident as an example of how they might have been injured.

She said: "The P7R is not a list of personnel awaiting medical treatment.

"It refers to personnel who have been temporarily medically downgraded and therefore can't deploy on operations.

"But many of them will still be able to perform other duties.

"This simply means they have an illness or injuries that prevents them from deploying. For example, this could be a broken leg that would have been treated immediately but needs time to heal."

Concerns over care for those injured in service

Former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Bramall said he had "very great concerns" over the state of medical care for wounded troops in the UK.

"When you hear all the stories of the poor after-care for wounded soldiers, including the Territorial Army, the long waiting lists, the stretched medical facilities and some patients almost lost in the system, I am convinced that the Government has not done enough, particularly with funding, to correct the appalling situation that existed some years back," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"I warned it was pretty obvious that of all the things that had been instigated and executed in the whole series of defence reviews... nothing had turned out quite so disastrously as the then medical arrangements.

"The Ministry of Defence will say they have made a lot of improvements, and they've made some, but I don't think they have made enough to care for our soldiers in the way they ought to be cared for."

Medical care in the field and evacuation back to the UK worked "pretty well" but there were serious problems once soldiers were returned home, said the crossbench peer - who led the military during the Falklands War.

"When they go out of hospital and then have to go on to after-care... they get lost in the National Health system - they have to join waiting lists and so on - and this is where I think they are not being treated properly."

The MoD's director of healthcare, Air Commodore Paul Evans, said no soldiers were "lost" in the NHS - but those injured in service were transferred to one of 14 military rehabilitation centres across the country.

"There they can spend many months to bring them back up to maximum functional outcome in a military environment.

"That is where the bulk of their recovery time is spent," he told the programme.

Work was also under way to see if a military-managed ward could be developed within the Birmingham hospital, he added.

If you have been injured in service, our specialist MoD solicitors can help. Visit the Armed Forces claims section.