Wounded soldiers get appalling health care

#1
Wounded soldiers 'get appalling health care'
Daily Telegraph link
Senior Army officers and Service charities united last night in condemning the treatment of wounded troops as "an absolute disgrace".

Field Marshal Lord Bramall, a former chief of the defence staff, said the outpatient service for soldiers was "appalling". Charity chiefs believe there is a "lost battalion" of 500 troops who have been ignored or forgotten after leaving hospital.

The row follows The Daily Telegraph's report of security worries at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, where a paratrooper was threatened by a man who accused him of "killing my Muslim brothers in Afghanistan".
Good to see the Telegraph going into bat!
 
#2
Utterly shameful to see this kind of treatment for HM's fighting men and women.Whatever anybody says about us sceptics we never leave our servicemen and women behind.
 
#3
Maybe us septics ought to organize a charity for our allies. There are already several armed forces charities for US troops that help buy armor and helmets, and send care packages and help fund humanitarian and civil affairs ops. Maybe we ought to give our allies a hand?
 
#4
http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages...ews.html?in_article_id=408180&in_page_id=1770

The terrible neglect of our troops

By TOM RAWSTORNE and DANIELLE GUSMAROLI


Last updated at 22:00pm on 2nd October 2006

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Daniel Twiddy: Still having flashbacks


British soldiers are among the best in the world. But they have been treated disgracefully by this Government. Yesterday, in Part One of a major investigation, we revealed they earn less and are taxed more on the frontline than troops from other Nato countries.

Here, we show how those injured in Iraq and Afghanistan have been shamefully abandoned back home...

Three-and-a-half years on and although the flashbacks are less regular, still they come. 'The strangest things trigger them — a banging noise or something on the telly,' says 26-year-old Daniel Twiddy. 'And when it happens it's like I'm there, right there. All over again.'

By 'there' he means Iraq. In his mind it is 1am on March 25, 2003, as he and his comrades on board their Challenger II tank pull back from the frontline near Basra after four days of fighting.

'I was asleep on the top when this massive explosion blew me off the vehicle,' the lance corporal recalls. 'A second round hit the tank and shrapnel went into my eyes and face. I suffered 80 per cent burns on my hands and head. I couldn't hear, I couldn't see — I had bits of flesh hanging off my body. I just curled up and thought: "This is it."

'Then I remember being on my hands and knees. All I could feel was the incredible heat from the burning tank. I couldn't see much, just the blood that was pouring into my eyes from my head. That is the memory that keeps coming back.'

A hit by so-called friendly fire, the incident claimed the lives of two of the tank's crew. Twiddy survived, but his injuries were horrific, and he has since undergone 20 operations. It was the end of his Army career but, more than that, it meant the death of a dream.

'I'd always wanted to be in the Army and I loved every minute of it. I loved the togetherness, the sense of comradeship,' he says. 'But from the moment I was discharged I realised that I meant absolutely nothing to the Ministry of Defence.

'I was just a number, no more, no less. It's like they think: "He's out, get the next one in." They've not said sorry for what happened, they've not thanked me for my service.'

The MoD refused to cover the £60-a-week cost of a therapist Twiddy needed to apply moisturiser to his skin grafts and horrendous burns, and also announced no one would be brought to book over the friendly fire.

Sadly, up and down Britain all too many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts will know and understand the feelings of anger, abandonment and betrayal that this admirable young man endures.

These are the men and women who put their lives on the line for their country — the very people whom Tony Blair, in his Labour conference speech last week, claimed to think about 'every hour'.

Why, then, are these injured soldiers forced to share NHS wards where some have been told not to talk about their war experiences for fear of upsetting other patients — as we shall see, one soldier was even, staggeringly, ordered to remove his uniform because it was 'offensive'?

Why are they abandoned to go silently insane as they struggle to come to terms with what they have witnessed — while charities that could help are not told of their identities?

And why are so many of them cynically obstructed from getting the pensions they are due and instead left to sue for compensation, and made to feel like dole-cheats after a fast buck?

So far, the two conflicts have claimed the lives of 159 British servicemen and women. A further 5,000 casualties have been airlifted back to the UK for treatment, while more than 1,500 have been diagnosed with serious mental health problems.

Those are the official figures — but, as we shall see, they do not give the real picture. 'People like us,' explains one veteran, so badly injured in Iraq that he will never serve nor work again, 'are the forgotten soldiers now. But every day our numbers grow — they won't be able to ignore us forever.'


A gun to his temple and a knife to his throat — that's how David McGough welcomed in Christmas 2003. The weapons weren't wielded by some fanatical Iraqi insurgent — but by the 24-year-old's own hand.

As a trauma medic with the Royal Army Medical Corps, he had spent six months in Iraq earlier that year, treating soldiers and civilians injured in the conflict, as well as looking after the health needs of a prisoner-of-war camp. Back home in Preston, McGough initially thought he had coped with what he had seen, but it quickly became obvious he had not.

To begin with, the symptoms were physical — vomiting daily, the odour of cooking or burned meat reminding him of the patients he had treated. Then his mind started to race, he couldn't sleep for days on end and the flashbacks began. Images of what he had seen filled his mind.

There was the Iraqi 'hit about 13 times, big chunks of his stomach, face and legs just gone'. There were the mass graves into which he and the camp padre would have to dispose of men, women and children on a daily basis.

And there was the 12-year-old girl who'd been hanged in a backstreet alley in Basra and whom McGough was sent to confirm as dead. He recognised her as the child to whom he and his comrades had chatted the week before.

'We heard later that she was probably hanged by the crowd because she'd been talking to our crew,' he says. 'That was one of the worst things . . . seeing a little girl hanging in the street because she once spoke to you.' McGough was no innocent. The son of a career soldier, he had joined up at the age of 18 and was so highly regarded that he was due to undergo officer training at Sandhurst on returning from Iraq.

Instead, haunted by what he had witnessed, he found himself vainly seeking help. Put on medical leave in October 2003, he was eventually given Prozac, but it didn't help much and by Christmas his weight had slipped from 11-and-a-half stones to seven. He could take no more.

First he tried to cut his throat, then he placed a 9mm handgun to his head. Both times his sister talked him out of taking his own life and in February 2004 an appointment was finally arranged with an MoD psychologist.

'He told me it was all in my head,' claims McGough, 'that I was to stop being stupid and get on with it.' He spent the rest of that year on sick leave and in December his military career came to an end. McGough was discharged, his services 'no longer required'.

'If I had been given a medical discharge, I would have had a pension and help. Instead I got nothing,' he says. 'Since then I worked in a shop briefly, but I couldn't even cope with that.' Today he is being treated by the NHS and has been diagnosed as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), for which he takes anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and sleeping tablets.

He receives disability benefits and is currently suing the MoD for medical negligence. 'I feel abandoned,' he says, 'I've just been cast aside. And I was a medic in a medical regiment who went to my medical officer for help. I was basically turned away. If I couldn't get any support, what chance does anyone else have?'

It's a question that's causing considerable concern to the charities and agencies who have the task of looking after veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Matters are made worse by the fact that the information from the MoD is so poor. Casualty figures have been desperately slow to emerge, prompting suspicions that the true state of affairs is being played down.

Suspicions have been fuelled by claims that men who have their wounds patched up in the field are ignored in any statistics that do emerge.

Meanwhile, charities such as the Royal British Legion and the Army Benevolent Fund have revealed that the MoD is refusing to supply them with details of casualties — casualties they could help — because it would breach the individuals' rights under the Data Protection Act.

While the MoD has precise figures for fatalities, there is no equivalent for combat injured — which has led one Tory politician to say: 'The real political hot potato might not be the numbers killed in Iraq, but the numbers wounded in action.'

Last week, the MoD stated that 7,000 British soldiers and civilians have been injured in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, with some 4,438 evacuated to Britain for treatment.

But the MoD has not produced a specific figure for injuries in combat. These figures include everyone — those with illnesses, heart attack victims, those who have suffered accidents and even people who have tripped and broken an ankle. And many believe it is disguising the true extent of combat casualties by hiding them within the figure for all injuries. The MoD has even admitted there is a shortfall in accounting as far as those wounded in action in Iraq are concerned and blames it on 'the heat of the action', poor paperwork and 'lost records'.

But an increasing number feel that the seriously wounded figures from Iraq are being officially swept under the carpet — hidden casualties of an unpopular war.

Of the 119 British deaths in Iraq — the latest, announced yesterday, was a medic serving in Basra — and 40 in Afghanistan, 108 were killed in action (89 in Iraq) according to MoD figures.

But the MoD has comprehensive combat casualty figures only for the first six months of this year and even then only for those treated at the main field hospital at Shaibah. In that period, 35 Britons were admitted 'wounded in action'.

For the 33 months from March 2003 to the start of this year, a period which included the initial invasion, published MoD records show only some 230 Britons treated as wounded in action, almost all at Shaibah.

But the figure does not ring true. There is a huge disparity in the ratios of dead to wounded between the U.S. and UK forces. For every one U.S. soldier killed in action in Iraq, some nine have been wounded, according to published figures. For every British soldier killed, only three have been wounded in action.

This suggests that many — perhaps several hundred — British wounded have not been officially listed. In the past week it was reported that an officer serving in Afghanistan had made a similar charge about the number of wounded there.

On top of this, UK soldiers are returning to war zones far sooner than they should. The 1st Battalion the Staffordshire Regiment, for example, is preparing to return to Iraq later this month.

When the soldiers and their families were told of this new deployment, in late spring, there was widespread 'shock and anger', according to one source.

This was because the battalion had returned from its previous six-month tour of Iraq only last October. Under the Army's 'harmony' guidelines, it should have had at least 24 months' break before returning to a war zone.

The pressure on our soldiers is worse than it has been in decades. Evidence from Combat Stress, a charity providing specialist help to veterans suffering from PTSD, suggests the condition is now on an unprecedented scale.

Leigh Skelton, its director of clinical services, says it already has more than 120 Iraqi veterans on its books, while those from Afghanistan run into double figures.

'They are coming forward far more quickly than any other previous conflict,' explains Mr Skelton. 'In 25 years we have had 350 from the Falklands, but in just three years we've had a third of that figure from Iraq.

'They are younger and we are likely to get many, many more referrals. Iraq is a bloody awful place to be and they are enduring a lot of trauma. Put that together with the fact this is an unpopular war, which leaves them feeling isolated, and it is a recipe for psychological problems.'

Combat Stress has also noticed that a disproportionate number of veterans seeking help are from the Territorial Army, upon whom the ever-shrinking regular Army relies more and more.

When the war in Iraq began three years ago, around 4,000 territorials, those who serve part-time while holding down civilian jobs, were sent to fight there. They made up 10 per cent of the entire British fighting force, quickly rising to 20 per cent as the war progressed. Since then, some 10,000 have served in the Middle East.

The deficiencies surrounding the management of territorials are highlighted by the case of Scott Garthley, who was injured on March 20, 2003, the first day of the war.

A senior executive with a bank, he had been in the TA for 18 years when he was called up to go to northern Kuwait to work for military intelligence, preparing battle plans for the invasion.

'There was a Scud alert and everyone ran for shelter,' the 38-year-old from Northampton says. 'I ran out of the tent and the next thing I remember was being in a hole in the ground.

'For the first ten minutes I actually thought I was dead — there was no physical feeling, all I could see was blue sky and I thought I was in heaven. Then a fly landed on my nose, I realised I was alive and all the pain started to come. I was in there for about an hour or two, living a death, thinking: 'I want to get home alive, I want to get home alive.'

The blast damaged his spine, his knees, his shoulders and his teeth, injuries that would require 17 operations over the next three years to put right. It also left him suffering from PTSD.

But as far as the MoD was concerned, it was a case of out of sight, out of mind. Airlifted from Iraq, he was taken to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, which deals with injured British troops. Since the closure of military hospitals, troops are treated at this NHS hospital on civilian wards.

'I was taken in on a trolley,' said Garthley, 'and the first thing a member of staff said was: "Can you take off your uniform in case you offend somebody."

'I don't know who I was supposed to be offending, but at 2am in the morning, having just come back from a war zone, to have somebody say that I was furious.

'I got wheeled into A&E with all the drunks on a Saturday night and was then seen by a junior registrar who moved my arms and legs around, told me I was fine, handed me a walking stick and told me to see my GP.'

Garthley claims he was told it would take 23 weeks to see a specialist. Instead, he chose to pay for the operations he required to be carried out privately, racking up bills of £50,000. He remained on sick leave from his £100,000-a-year job until September 2005, when he was medically discharged from the Army. Soon afterwards, he also left his civilian job through ill-health.

Although the Army pension he receives is worth about £800 a month, Garthley points out that figure does not nearly match his civilian wage. As a result, he is suing the MoD for compensation for loss of lifetime earnings, claiming medical negligence.

'Seeing how people like me have been treated has got soldiers asking questions,' he says. ' "Will you give us the right equipment? Will you support us? Will you stop allowing prosecutions for murder when we are only doing our job? Are you going to put us back together again if we're injured? Will you be able to secure my financial future?" '

The irony is that the more these worries weigh on the minds of overstretched servicemen and women, the more vulnerable they become to subsequent psychological problems.

And the more the perception grows that the MoD does not care about its veterans, the more acute will personnel shortages become. A vicious circle.

The last word comes from Captain Christopher Horsford, who recently left the Light Infantry after five-and-a-half years. The 30-year-old spent time in Iraq and has eloquently aired his views on the problems facing the forces.

'The Army is haemorrhaging,' he says. 'Tomorrow's company sergeant-majors and colonels are leaving as exhausted, shattered and betrayed young men. Their experience cannot be replaced.

'You cannot put an advert in a newspaper for someone to lead 100 soldiers to the back streets of Basra. Soldiers want the Army to be a career, spending a lifetime doing an honourable job, making the world a safer place. But our trust in our country to look after our interests while we were looking after its interests has not been returned.

'The Army's personnel are voting with their feet. They will continue to do so until this country's leaders show the sort of honour and duty towards its soldiers that those troops show on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan.'
 
#5
A Sobering article, very......

I don’t suppose Blair & co will honour us with a reply? ... nah didn’t think so ... c*nts

Its not so much the war fighting or 'going to sunny places' that sticks in the throat, most of us joined up for that... its the total lack of support, lies and well the blatantly obvious 'f*ck you' attitude that comes from the top starting at No 10.

CJ thanks for the offer, maybe if our cousins over the water did organise something it would shame our own country into doing more? But I doubt it, even this Govt can’t say they don’t know what is going on, they just choose to ignore it.

Unfortunately for us over here on this side of the pond squaddies aren’t small furry and cuddly (the public here just love cute animals) or some potential 'new libour' voter that has just sneaked into the country in the guise of a 'refugee' thereby attracting all the interest from the top. Then we have the PC Brigade....
 
#6
One of the problems with this Government is it is instinctively anti military. Do you think just because they are in power that their views have massively changed?

The undermining of our armed forces is not only cynical and calculated. It is deliberate policy. It's all part of the back door tactic of justifying us becoming part of a Euro Defence Force.

It won't be long before "Overstretch" and budgetary reasons is used as the justification.
 
#7
I have been saying on the RAMC & QARANC forum, that we need Military Hospitals back. Any excuse about not getting proper training for the nurses or Doctors are utter lies. What type of training are the vast majority getting now?? geriatric training, ideal for a young, nubile Army!

The government is lieing about figures, we know how much they love spin and they are trying to distract the public about the true cost of the war in human terms.

I am so disgusted at the treatment given to our casulaties of war, and this comes from a Medic
 
#8
So far, of course, I've seen nothing amounting to a sensible reply to any of these articles in the Mail or Telegraph from any Minister (or PR worm). They're doing the Provisional SF trick of keeping very quiet in the expectation that the furore will gradually die down, then making a huge amount of noise about something wholly unrelated - showing them as victims, or on the moral high ground - which drowns out the irritating buzz of truth.
 
#9
Whilst in no way defending Neue Arbeits disgraceful record, it should not be forgotten that the Tories were the ones that initiated the policy. They also have blood on their hands.

Cnuts the lot of them.
 

BTDT

Old-Salt
#10
Chief_Joseph
Maybe you septics should stir up some action to get the US military to offer places in your military hospitals to "your gallant British allies" who are wounded in America's wars. This would both make the USofA look good and might shame British politicians into providing a satisfactory medical support system over here.
 
#11
That was a powerful and disturbing article which leaves you feeling appalled that individuals have had these experiences.

Bizarrely, to be asked to remove your uniform in case it offends someone, is, without doubt, one of the most galling remarks.

It is a betrayal.

We've sunk to new lows.
 

BTDT

Old-Salt
#12
Airlifted from Iraq, he was taken to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, which deals with injured British troops. Since the closure of military hospitals, troops are treated at this NHS hospital on civilian wards.

'I was taken in on a trolley,' said Garthley, 'and the first thing a member of staff said was: "Can you take off your uniform in case you offend somebody."
Begs the question whether Muslims would be asked to shed their non-Western garb "in case it offends someone".



Edited for typo
 
#14
Warrior_Poet said:
Whilst in no way defending Neue Arbeits disgraceful record, it should not be forgotten that the Tories were the ones that initiated the policy. They also have blood on their hands.

Cnuts the lot of them.
Very true, but... again whilst not defending actions by the Tories that everyone in the know at the time thought to be a bad short-sighted move.

At least when they started the cuts the world was in all honesty a much more peaceful place and some could say(wrongly IMHO) that a reduction in resources was in order, although why they couldn’t have kept the Mil Hospitals open and just treated more NHS patients I don’t know.

But this Neue Libour lot have criminally carried on the cuts closing Mil Hospitals, base’s and cutting troop numbers during a period of War Fighting in parts so intense that we have not seen the like since Korea. And that fact is unacceptable and far far far outweighs any actions carried out by the Tories and that, along with their so called border control policy (cutting HM Customs thereby allowing almost free movement of criminals, drugs and weapons) puts this country in far more danger than we have been in since the 50's
 
#15
Beentheredonethat said:
Airlifted from Iraq, he was taken to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, which deals with injured British troops. Since the closure of military hospitals, troops are treated at this NHS hospital on civilian wards.

'I was taken in on a trolley,' said Garthley, 'and the first thing a member of staff said was: "Can you take off your uniform in case you offend somebody."
Begs the question whether Muslims would be asked to shed their non-Western garb "in case it offends someone".



Edited for typo
No, we spend money byingthem special gowns so that they don't feel offended.

FFS
 
#16
But this Neue Libour lot have criminally carried on the cuts closing Mil Hospitals, base’s and cutting troop numbers during a period of War Fighting in parts so intense that we have not seen the like since Korea. And that fact is unacceptable and far far far outweighs any actions carried out by the Tories and that, along with their so called border control policy (cutting HM Customs thereby allowing almost free movement of criminals, drugs and weapons) puts this country in far more danger than we have been in since the 50's
And ironically spending the savings on drug user support and accomodation and welfare for illigal immigrants!
 
#17
Furthermore today's (3 Oct 06) DT editorial leader:

Our wounded soldiers deserve better treatment

Tony Blair is the most bellicose Prime Minister in British history, punctuating his premiership with military intervention in distant lands.

He has sent troops into combat on six occasions – air strikes against Iraq in 1998 and against Kosovo in 1999, the "invasion" of Sierra Leone in 2000, of Afghanistan in 2001, of Iraq in 2003, and now the second deployment in Afghanistan to quell the Taliban insurgency.

Mr Blair adumbrated the philosophy behind this serial interventionism in his 1999 speech in Chicago in which he warned that appeasement does not work and that the most pressing foreign policy problem facing the West was "to identify the circumstances in which we should get actively involved in other people's conflicts".

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The corollary to Mr Blair's in many ways laudable desire to right the world's wrongs is unprecedented pressure on the UK's Armed Forces. With the exception of the last century's two world wars, it is arguable that they have never in modern times been so stretched and so hard-worked over such a protracted period as under this New Labour Government and its Chicago doctrine. In these circumstances, our Servicemen and women have a right to expect only the very best treatment before, during and after combat.

If only. To the dreadful catalogue of equipment shortages and failures that have all too frequently characterised these armed interventions must now be added the unforgivable treatment meted out to wounded soldiers.

The grotesque spectacle – reported in this newspaper yesterday – of a wounded paratrooper being berated in an NHS ward by an angry Muslim who accused him of "killing my Muslim brothers in Afghanistan" simply beggars belief. Military casualties are only being treated in NHS hospitals at all because successive governments, in a crass display of short-term expediency, sold off military hospitals to property developers to help raise cash.

The result? British soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq joke that they would prefer to take a more serious combat injury because that would mean them being sent to the US military hospital in Ramstein in Germany – not thrown on the mercies of a general NHS ward and taking their chances with the possibility of being harangued (or worse) by an aggrieved Muslim wandering in off the street.

Mr Blair's assertive foreign policy in a world made dangerous by Islamic terrorism can be justified.

What cannot be justified is the casual neglect with which the brave men and women who have helped him deliver that policy are being dealt with. Their courage, skill and professionalism are rightly lauded around the world and this Government owes them an enormous debt of gratitude. It's time it started to repay that debt by ensuring wounded soldiers receive the treatment they so richly deserve.
 

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