Indy: Extent of soldiers injuries in Iraq hidden by MoD

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  1. http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article339566.ece

    Extent of soldiers' injuries in Iraq 'hidden by MoD'
    By Terri Judd and Ben Russell
    Published: 19 January 2006

    The Government has been accused of hiding the true human cost of Britain's involvement in the Iraq war by failing to reveal the extent of debilitating injuries suffered by soldiers.

    While it is well documented that 98 service personnel have lost their lives since the beginning of the conflict, little has been said of the men who have lost limbs and eyes or suffered burns in the same attacks.

    The Ministry of Defence has conceded that 4,017 personnel have been medically evacuated from Iraq, but it has repeatedly hidden behind the Data Protection Act, patient confidentiality or Freedom of Information restrictions in failing to provide a greater picture of the wounded.

    Almost three years after the invasion, the military insist that the figures have simply not been centrally collated. "To retrospectively collate detailed information... would exceed the upper limit of £600 set by fees regulations," it said in response to one Freedom of Information question.

    With Defence Secretary John Reid due to visit injured soldiers in Britain for the first time tomorrow, there was growing pressure from families, former soldiers and MPs to give a true picture of injuries.

    "This is not good enough, the British public and our servicemen and women deserve to have a much clearer picture of what is happening in Iraq. People won't understand why the Government has so far been unable to provide informative statistics on casualties sustained in Iraq," said the shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

    "The MoD must already hold records on the natures of injuries. Figures illustrating the types of injuries would not have any impact upon the relationship between patient and doctor. If the US Department of Defence can provide similar figures for those US personnel injured in Iraq, then so should the MoD."

    In January 2005, a Defence minister Ivor Caplin stated that 790 service personnel had been injured in hostile action and accidents.

    Last night, the department could not provide an equivalent figure for the past 12 months. However, it insisted that the number categorised as wounded in action at the main field hospital at Shaibah Logistics base, south of Basra, was less than 200.

    Insisting that the department was not "covering up", a spokesman added that it was hoping to collate and publish greater detail of serious injuries by the end of the week.

    Several dead soldiers' families - aware that the men's comrades suffered horrendous wounds in the same attacks - have criticised the Government for being less open. One has even gone as far as asking a minister for precise figures but has yet to receive a response.

    Sue Smith, whose son, Pte Phillip Hewett, 21, was one of three Staffordshire soldiers killed by a roadside bomb last July, described the injured as the "forgotten soldiers of the Iraq war".

    Reg Keys, whose son Tom was among six Royal Military Police officers killed in 2003, added: "Both the American and the British don't want people to know about them."

    Corporal Dave Corrigan, a Territorial Army Para, who has undergone four operations on his knee since injuring it while serving as a field ambulance commander during the initial war phase, said: "We are a statistic and they try to hide it and it is so easy to hide the TA because we melt into the background."

    Michael Moore, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said he would press the MoD to give a breakdown of battle injuries in Iraq, while James Arbuthnot, Conservative chairman of the all-party Commons Defence Committee, added that he would be asking specific questions.

    The Government has been accused of hiding the true human cost of Britain's involvement in the Iraq war by failing to reveal the extent of debilitating injuries suffered by soldiers.

    While it is well documented that 98 service personnel have lost their lives since the beginning of the conflict, little has been said of the men who have lost limbs and eyes or suffered burns in the same attacks.

    The Ministry of Defence has conceded that 4,017 personnel have been medically evacuated from Iraq, but it has repeatedly hidden behind the Data Protection Act, patient confidentiality or Freedom of Information restrictions in failing to provide a greater picture of the wounded.

    Almost three years after the invasion, the military insist that the figures have simply not been centrally collated. "To retrospectively collate detailed information... would exceed the upper limit of £600 set by fees regulations," it said in response to one Freedom of Information question.

    With Defence Secretary John Reid due to visit injured soldiers in Britain for the first time tomorrow, there was growing pressure from families, former soldiers and MPs to give a true picture of injuries.

    "This is not good enough, the British public and our servicemen and women deserve to have a much clearer picture of what is happening in Iraq. People won't understand why the Government has so far been unable to provide informative statistics on casualties sustained in Iraq," said the shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

    "The MoD must already hold records on the natures of injuries. Figures illustrating the types of injuries would not have any impact upon the relationship between patient and doctor. If the US Department of Defence can provide similar figures for those US personnel injured in Iraq, then so should the MoD."

    In January 2005, a Defence minister Ivor Caplin stated that 790 service personnel had been injured in hostile action and accidents.

    Last night, the department could not provide an equivalent figure for the past 12 months. However, it insisted that the number categorised as wounded in action at the main field hospital at Shaibah Logistics base, south of Basra, was less than 200.

    Insisting that the department was not "covering up", a spokesman added that it was hoping to collate and publish greater detail of serious injuries by the end of the week.

    Several dead soldiers' families - aware that the men's comrades suffered horrendous wounds in the same attacks - have criticised the Government for being less open. One has even gone as far as asking a minister for precise figures but has yet to receive a response.

    Sue Smith, whose son, Pte Phillip Hewett, 21, was one of three Staffordshire soldiers killed by a roadside bomb last July, described the injured as the "forgotten soldiers of the Iraq war".

    Reg Keys, whose son Tom was among six Royal Military Police officers killed in 2003, added: "Both the American and the British don't want people to know about them."

    Corporal Dave Corrigan, a Territorial Army Para, who has undergone four operations on his knee since injuring it while serving as a field ambulance commander during the initial war phase, said: "We are a statistic and they try to hide it and it is so easy to hide the TA because we melt into the background."

    Michael Moore, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said he would press the MoD to give a breakdown of battle injuries in Iraq, while James Arbuthnot, Conservative chairman of the all-party Commons Defence Committee, added that he would be asking specific questions.
     
  2. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    This follows a piece in the Mail on the same lines, but with an extensive dit about a RAMC captain called Peter Norton who lost an arm and a leg on (IIRC) Telic 2;
     
  3. Bomb disposal not RAMC
     
  4. Without re-hashing old threads that relate to this subject, this article again furthers the feeling that the Ministry of Defence is not functioning in the interests of serving personnel, irrespective of service type.

    Whilst those in the system are appalled that S of S for Defence and his predecessors have not visited Headley Court, until nearly 3 years after the invasion. To then be told that no accurate reporting of this area exists beggar’s belief. My personal view is that the information is not only known, but easily available, and that the MOD by citing the difficulties collating the data, are insulting the many of us, who understand how the system works and the technologies available. The FOI statement is just a smokescreen.

    I would urge the MOD to make available all that is known to the National Audit Office (NAO), in order that an independent report detailing the true picture of injured / suffering military personnel from Telic can be not only bought into the public arena, but also to use the data for future planning of service healthcare. With deployments to Afghanistan happening soon, making these mistakes again, will be unforgiveable.

    Who knows, it may even be realised in Whitehall that the TA / Reservist mobilisees (sic) also suffer in similar ways to their' regular counterparts - that one Army concept again!

    As time goes by, HM Government under Tony Blair is increasing being proven to inadequately equip its armed forces, not communicate any perceived bad news relating to Iraq and generally misinform those, such as Reg Keys and others, who have lost loved ones.

    This misinformation is particularly concerning, and like others I question the motives behind this. I have spoken to my MP about these three areas and he greets my anecdotal evidence with “shock and awe” that things really are as bad as we all know them to be. The reality he admitted was that MP’s are fed pretty much the same line, and the majority of MP’s are as ignorant as the general public in these areas.

    The time is coming very soon, where an avalanche of truth is going to go through this leadership in respect of our operations in Iraq. I am sure many serving are torn between support for our soldiers on the ground, and the total chaos that our government has bought within the Armed forces.

    If you feel strongly, write to your MP, tell him about your colleagues’ and their situations and start asking them to ask in the Commons, how many MP’s have been in contact with their’ constituents, who have been affected by Telic, and task them to look closely at the MOD and it’s objectives.
     
  5. Apologies if posted elsewhere...

    Mr Reid denies cover-up!!

    Around 230 British troops have been injured in enemy action in Iraq, Defence Secretary John Reid revealed.

    Those hurt while engaged in hostile action make up the bulk of the 40 people who suffered life-threatening injuries since the conflict began, Mr Reid said.

    The minister gave the figures after the wife of a badly wounded captain called on the Government to be more open.

    Peter Norton, 43, lost an arm and a leg in a bomb blast.

    His wife, Sue, had said ministers should reveal how many more had been injured.

    Speaking on a visit to a military rehabilitation centre, Mr Reid insisted there had been "no cover-up".

    Categorising the injured, wounded and sick was simply not a priority for forces in Iraq, he said.

    "The important thing, actually, is not the 40 or the 230, the important thing is that every single one of them gets to be given the care they need," Mr Reid said.

    The figures given by Mr Reid come on top of the 98 servicemen and women killed in Iraq, two-thirds of whom are thought to have been killed by enemy action.

    Of the 230 injured while fighting rebels, some were treated at the British base in Shaibah, south of Basra, while others were brought back to Britain for treatment.

    In all, just over 4,000 people, including Iraqis and British civilians as well as servicemen and women, have been evacuated back to the UK for medical treatment. The vast majority suffered illness or an accident while in Iraq.
     
  6. I don't think their is a cover up, the 4017 evacuated back to the UK was an easy figure to attain, but that hasn't come from any medical IT system - its from an admin one.
     
  7. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    These data important for understanding morbidity and outcomes, and great care is taken over the production of stats. One is also bound to wonder why there is, on NOTICAS signals, the requirement for injuries to be categorised - (Enemy Action/Fire, Friendly Action/Fire, Operational Accident, Non-Operational Accident). Another opportunity arises when patients are aeromedically evacuated, and signals contain details of injuries and how they happened. With all this information available, one hesitates to call government Ministers (even Labour ones) liars, but what other explanation can there be? No one can be that badly briefed, surely.

    Perhaps Dr Reid will now be able to tell us why this has not proved to be the case for many after leaving hospital.


    Slightly misleading. All will have received initial treatment at Shaibah (or another coalition medical facility in theatre) prior to aeromed - it isn't 'either/or'.
     
  8. msr

    msr LE

    230 injured as a result of enemy action, how did 4000 other injuries required return to the UK occur?

    Sounds like we need more health and safety training.

    msr
     
  9. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    Whilst some will be illness, sports injuries and the like, I suspect that MOD have taken the request very literally and the 230 will represent just those injured whilst in direct contact with the enemy. See also the categorisation of cas in my post above.

    A cynic would, of course, ascribe the 4000 to Spams firing at the wrong side.....
     
  10. Of course no system such as AP3/RYAN exists to capture any information like this does it? :roll:
     
  11.  
  12. Having worked in Med Branch at Div level, I know that accurate data IS collected covering deaths, Battle Injries and diseases/non-battle injuries. Viro-bono, ventress et al will be able elaborate further.
     

  13. Quite so, it's a legal requirement to do so and at the Field Hospitals detailed records were and I am sure are still maintained. To argue that "central records are not kept" is disengenous to put it mildly. I am sure that the epidemiologists at AMD, not to mention the medico-legal team would make an issue if such records were not kept.

    It seems the current SoS has been infected with Buff's legalistic and self-serving approach to answering questions or is it perhaps the cold dead hand of a civil servant?
     
  14. Personally i find it disgusting that, after waiting 3 years to bother their ARRSEs to actually visit anyone in rehab, a Govt minister will come up with such utter tosh as:

    Clearly it isn't important how many are injured because we dont want to talk about that. I also wonder if they consider after care?
     
  15. I used to work at DMRC Headley Court and to say I didn't believe the governments figures on injuries resulting from Iraq (especially amputations) would be an understatement.

    A while back, a little after the initial Op Telic operations had finished, I remember seeing some spin put out about how there were 'only' 8 or so amputees currently in the Armed Forces as a result of operations in Iraq, which seemed odd as if that were so that'd mean all of them (plus some others from god knows where) were at HCT awaiting fitting for prosthetics and rehabilitation.

    There was a good article on the news (BBC I believe) today (well yesterday now) about HCT. When some lad (with a lower leg amputation) was pushed on his views about the Sectary of Defences visit by some BBC vulture he said, "I'd rather not say as I don't think it appropriate". Quite refreshing considering the usually "I'm very happy" crap the brass normally tell the OR's to say. Not quite "all politicians are self-serving c*nts" but if you're used to the usual garbage service personnel are prompted to say its not far off.