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The Defence Medical Welfare Service

“The Military Injury Claims team has a unique relationship with staff from the Defence Medical Welfare Service based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Without this relationship, we would be unable to access injured servicemen and women and provide advice to assist them with their Personal Accident (PAX) and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme claims. We are forever grateful to Shelly and her team and I am sure you will agree from the following article, the service they provide is absolutely fantastic.”

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham hosts the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM), which receives emergency aeromedical evacuations from the Armed Forces around the world. Its all-encompassing welfare includes Military Liaison Officers, the Padre, SSAFA Norton House and Fisher House and, rather more quietly, an organisation known as the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS).

Here is a special account by Shelly Turton, Service Delivery Manager at the DMWS.

Before joining the DMWS, my only knowledge of the service came from a former colleague, who was a welfare officer for the organisation. I knew they worked with the military in hospitals and that they deployed, but I didn’t appreciate the extent of their efforts until I managed the team first hand. I’m writing this from our office in Fisher House; beautifully appointed accommodation for military patients and their families, where a number of agencies work together to relieve the burdens of hospital admission, allowing the patient to focus on the most important thing: recovery.

It’s first thing in the morning and the daily handover is taking place – our duty welfare officer briefing the team on events from the night before, including any hospital admissions that have taken place, family that may have booked in and anything out of the ordinary that requires attention.

In the meantime, another welfare officer is checking on a family member staying at Fisher House. They just want to see how they’re getting on and to provide reassurance and support to help them come to terms with their loved one’s injury. As an organisation we ensure that we keep up to date with support that can be provided by other agencies and it is not unusual to see the team working alongside agencies such as BLESMA, Blind Veterans UK and the Veterans Welfare Service.

A serving soldier has just visited to collect his wife’s belongings. Sadly, she never recovered from illness and passed away. A welfare officer pauses during an administration task to go and help. It amazes me how they can move so deftly from seemingly mundane tasks to supporting people in what may be their darkest hour.

Welfare and the needs of the Armed Forces community are often misunderstood and, to my mind, underappreciated, but if I was admitted to hospital, or staying at Fisher House, I know I’d welcome the appearance of one of our welfare officers. I’ve seen them do remarkable things in the year I’ve worked here, and I couldn’t be prouder to manage them.

A duty welfare officer is available at RCDM 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information on the work of DMWS please visit: www.dmws.org.uk

Paul Weston - Former Captain, Intelligence Corps
Solicitor, Military Injury Claims team
Sheffield office

Paul Weston joined the British Army and the Intelligence Corps in 1984 and spent 25 years engaged in intelligence operations. He developed an expertise in Human Intelligence and Surveillance and took part in a number of operations in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq. He also enjoyed postings to Cyprus, the United States of America, New Zealand, Israel, Dubai and Norway.

Prior to the 2003 war in Iraq, he had been working closely with Army Legal Services and saw an opportunity to develop his skills further so decided to undertake a law degree with the Open University. Paul’s war in Iraq was cut short however, after he was injured in a Friendly Fire Incident - he returned to the UK and was treated at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham.

Despite his injury, Paul remained in the Army and in 2006 was commissioned into the Intelligence Corps as a Captain. In 2007, after completing his law degree, he left the Army and enrolled onto the Legal Practice Course at Sheffield University. In September 2010, he began his training contract at Irwin Mitchell and undertook a variety of Personal Injury seats.

Because of his background, he was able to work closely with the Military Injury Claims team and in September 2012, he successfully qualified as a solicitor.

Key Contact

Paul Weston

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