Our client, Lance Bombardier Benjamin Parkinson, is a 34 year old serving Junior Non-Commissioned Officer in the British Army. He lives in his own specially converted bungalow in Doncaster with his mother Diane and his step-father Andy, who act as his full time carers. This is his story.
Ben’s life changed dramatically when the Land Rover he was travelling in turned upside down 11 years ago. He was seriously injured in the North of Helmand Province whilst fighting for his country in Afghanistan.
Ben was at the rear of the vehicle providing top gunner cover when it unexpectedly struck an anti-tank mine. The blast caused Ben to be thrown from the 4x4 and he sustained a total of 37 injuries, which included a bilateral amputation of his legs, a traumatic back injury with fractured vertebrae, and a brain injury.
He was resuscitated at the scene before being airlifted by a helicopter to Camp Bastian where he was transferred to a Canadian Hospital in Kandahar before being repatriated to the UK for treatment.
Ben was not expected to survive his injuries, and it is on record that he is the most seriously injured British soldier to survive an attack in Afghanistan.
A Future, But An Uncertain
One Ben has made a truly remarkable recovery which is testament to his bravery, determination and strength. However, as a result of his injuries he continues to need complex and extensive 24 hour care and he faces difficult challenges on a daily basis.
It was made clear to us that our client’s needs were not being met and his care had got lost in the gaps between the MoD, Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and NHS England. In August 2016, the MoD commissioned a 100 page report by an expert regarding Ben’s needs, but failed to implement many of the recommendations.
Important equipment to facilitate his rehabilitation was not provided, and the funds paid by the CCG under his personal health budget were not enough to pay for the care he required.
This led to Ben and his family facing an uncertain future and in July last year they’d simply had enough. They instructed us to send a letter threatening to take court action if the defendants did not conduct a review of Ben’s care and recalculate his personal health budget.
We argued that the defendants were in breach of their legal duties towards Ben as a disabled serving Junior Non- Commissioned Officer who risked his life to represent his country in a dangerous war torn zone.
In response to our letter, NHS England confirmed that they were the responsible commissioner of Ben’s community care package, and that his care should have been transferred from the CCG years ago. They agreed to conduct a full assessment of Ben’s care needs.
We represented Ben in extended negotiations with all the parties to reach an agreement regarding a new model for organising Ben’s care. A steering group was established, including representatives from all the public bodies with duties towards Ben, to meet every eight weeks to discuss and resolve the problems Ben has faced accessing care, treatment, and equipment.
The first meeting was in October 2017, and progress has been made to increase the hourly rate paid for his day time care and to source him specialist equipment that now plays a key part in his rehabilitation.
The intention is that the steering group will transition into the Integrated Personalised Commissioning for Veterans (IPC4V) scheme. This new scheme by the MoD is still in the pilot stage and is designed to meet the needs of high dependent serving members of the Armed Forces. Ben has been seeking entry since he was asked to take part in January 2016 by the Minister for Veterans, Mark Lancaster.
Ben has become an inspiration to many. He carried the Olympic flame through his hometown on his prosthetic legs, was appointed an MBE in 2013 and he has plenty of exciting plans for the future despite his setbacks.
Whilst Ben and his family are disappointed that it took threatening court proceedings, they are glad and relieved that all his care needs will finally be met. Sadly Ben will never again lace up his old military boots but the least he deserves, after the brave service he gave his country, is the right care and support.
We work with our Public Law team on numerous legal challenges including an action brought by Ben resulting in a review of the AFCS.
Published: May 2018
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