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Indy: Extent of soldiers injuries in Iraq hidden by MoD

#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.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#2
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;
Shameful silence

NO one could fail to be moved by Sue Norton's account in yesterday's Mail of the injuries suffered in Iraq by her husband Peter, a bomb disposal officer.

But many would have been taken aback by her revelation that the Ministry of Defence does not issue full details of Iraq war casualties. Only the dead are listed.

Those, like Captain Norton, who have been wounded in action are in danger of becoming forgotten heroes.

In the US the names of all those injured are posted by the Pentagon.

The MoD should do the same - or it will arouse suspicions it is covering up the true human cost of this disastrous war.
 
#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
Categorising the injured, wounded and sick was simply not a priority for forces in Iraq, he said.
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.

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


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.
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
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
msr said:
how did 4000 other injuries required return to the UK occur?
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.....
 
#11
mereminx said:
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.


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

I think John Reid is very cleverly denying the wrong thing. I don't think there has been a cover up either. For a cover up to have occured the government would have had to needed to know the extent and nature of the issue and then decide for political reasons to suppress that information. Has this happened? Well probably not.

What has happened is that soldiers seriously injured in Iraq have have largely gone un-noticed by the politicians who sent them there, the MOD, the media (because the MOD have denied media access) and subsequently the public are pretty clueless even if they gave a toss in the first place.

No Mr Reid, no cover up at all, but an absence of sympathy with those injured serving their country.
 
#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
Maj_Boothroyd said:
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.

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:

"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.
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.
 
#16
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,,1691740,00.html

40 British soldiers seriously hurt in Iraq war

· MoD gives breakdown of injuries to personnel
· Reid defends quality of medical assistance

Richard Norton-Taylor and Patrick Barkham
Saturday January 21, 2006
The Guardian


Forty British soldiers have been "very seriously injured" in Iraq since the invasion and required urgent life-saving treatment, the Ministry of Defence disclosed yesterday.
The figures were released as John Reid, the defence secretary, went to a military rehabilitation centre in Surrey, and became the first cabinet minister to have a public meeting with troops who had been injured in Iraq.

Mr Reid said a total of 230 personnel had been injured in enemy action and treated in British army hospitals since operations began in Iraq. This figure includes those now being treated in the British field hospital at Shaiba in Iraq.

It is the first time the MoD has released the figures of those categorised as being seriously injured in Iraq. Previously, it has only confirmed the number of British soldiers who have been killed - 98 so far, of whom two-thirds were killed in action, the rest as a result of accidents and disease, though there have also been suicides.
More than 4,000 soldiers have been evacuated mainly as a result of illness, accidents or minor injuries. The ministry declined to give details of those it has classed as "very seriously injured" or the circumstances in which they were hurt.

But it is understood that 12 soldiers at least, including two from the Black Watch, have had one or more limbs amputated after attacks by suicide bombers or from roadside improvised explosive devices. A further 30 to 40 have paralysing spinal injuries, lost an eye, or suffered brain damage from bomb attacks, the Scottish newspaper, the Herald, reported this week.

Private Karl Hinett, 19, is reported to be still undergoing treatment for severe burns after his Warrior armoured vehicle was attacked last September in in Basra, the significance and seriousness of which the ministry initially tried to play down.

The minister has been criticised by the families of some of the seriously injured, including the wife of a badly wounded captain. Peter Norton, 43, lost an arm and a leg in a bomb blast. His wife, Sue, had said ministers should reveal how many other personnel had been injured like him.

Speaking on his visit to Headley Court, Surrey, 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 a "first-class service" was being provided for injured soldiers but said he regretted reports, if they were true, of injured service personnel being neglected or left to languish in NHS treatment when returned to civilian life.

"I'm for excellence for everybody. Like any human organisation, there will be omissions ... If there are omissions when they go into the NHS or go into civilian life, I regret that and if people bring it to my attention I try and sort that," he added.

The defence medical rehabilitation centre at Headley Court is being expanded from 18 "polytrauma" beds for those with multiple injuries and loss of limbs to 36 so it can treat and help rehabilitate the average of 15 to 20 military personnel who lose limbs each year.

There are now 35 amputees in the British military who have returned to active service, according to Lieutenant Colonel David Minden, commanding officer of the unit. Of 111 present patients, 11 were injured on Operation Telic in Iraq.

Mr Reid denied that servicemen and women who lost limbs received substandard treatment from the military's in-house prosthetic technicians. "They are higher than the standard provided in the NHS." The defence secretary added: "I get bowled over by the courage, enthusiasm, morale and endurance of our armed services. People have the most traumatic experiences, have lost limbs, and they tell me they want to get back into the services. It gives the lie to those who say the morale of our services is lower than it ought to be. The morale is great."
 
#17
http://www.news.mod.uk/news_headline_story2.asp?newsItem_id=3933

It is good to see that ministers are finally giving credit to the medical and rehabilitation services, rather than treating the wounded as a dirty little secret to be hidden away. I wonder when the Dear Leader will get off his backside and visit...perhaps the hydropool may stir some memories of Caribbean millionaires' mansions and provide some impetus....

Reid praises improvements in specialist care for injured Service personnel
Published Friday 20th January 2006


John Reid, Secretary of State for Defence, talks to service personnel undergoing treatment at Headley Court, Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre.

The world-class care provided to injured service personnel was praised by Secretary of State for Defence John Reid during a visit to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court today, 20 January 2005.

John Reid said:

"We ask a great deal of our Armed Forces and their medical care is understandably given a very high priority. We provide world-class care for our world-class Armed Forces. In all the visits I have made to see injured service personnel I have been genuinely impressed with the care they receive and the hard work and professionalism of the Defence Medical Staff. Their dedication and commitment is unparalleled. The facilities I have seen today demonstrate the commitment and financial investment that the MoD has made to provide cutting edge medical care."

John Reid met patients and staff during an extensive tour of the DMRC. He also saw the centre's diverse rehabilitation facilities, including a hydrotherapy pool, injury clinic and the Limb Fitting & Amputee Rehabilitation Centre. The latter is a unique facility which means military personnel can receive prosthetic limbs quickly and have them fitted by experts.

John Reid's visit follows two previous visits by him to see injured service personnel in Iraq. Adam Ingram (Minister for the Armed Forces), Lord Paul Drayson (Minister for Defence Procurement) and Don Touhig (Under Secretary of State) have also made private visits to see injured service personnel over the past six months.

In conversation with journalists during the visit, Mr Reid explained that around 230 UK service personnel had been wounded as a result of hostile action in Iraq between March 2003 and November 2005. This figure covers those whose wounds were treated in our Field Hospital in Shaibah. It is not absolutely precise because, for example, a few of our casualties were treated by coalition partners and more minor injuries would not have required field hospital treatment.

Between February 2003 and December 2005 some 4,000 military and civilian personnel have been medically evacuated from the theatre of operations. The great majority of these cases were evacuated due to illness, or injury not arising from hostile action.

Headley Court, near Epsom in Surrey, treats injured Servicepersonnel irrespective of where or how they received their injuries. Admissions in the past 12 months include personnel injured in road traffic accidents, sporting incidents, during training and on operations in Iraq. The opening of Headley Court's Regional Rehabilitation Unit (RRU) has seen injured military personnel recover quicker and return to duty sooner - on average, personnel can expect to return to their careers six months quicker and serve for an extra 18 months.


Ahh the hydropool...it looks so inviting until you have actually experienced a session in it, and dive-bombing in at least once is definitely worth the "punishment" exercises....:D


Utmost best wishes to the injured man in the photo.
 

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