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Soldiering on?

  • Newsnight
  • 22 Jan 07, 01:49 PM

statue203cap.jpgTonight on Newsnight we are looking into the circumstances of soldiers who have been medically discharged.

Watch the report and Gen Sir Mike Jackson and Veterans Minister Derek Twigg responses here.

What have been your experiences - have you had to use the NHS, if so how would you rate your treatment? Should the army continue to care for you once you have been discharged? What kind of financial provisions were you given?

Join the debate here.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:20 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Wilf wrote:

When I got MD'd due to a fractured pelvis I was due resettlement courses and assistance. Due to my physical condition I was unable to take them at the time so asked if I would be able to take them in the future once I was physically able, and was told yes. When I tried six months later I was told that one of the pieces of paper I had signed to be able to go and live at home to recover waived all rights to assistance. I was 21, broke and gutted.

To top it off, whilst getting NHS care they found that my spine was fractured and I had two ruptured discs - totally missed by the army docs.

  • 2.
  • At 04:31 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • John Hodder wrote:

When I was Hospitalised in Libya it was in a Militaty establishment where I was in my own enviroment being treated by 'fellow military'. It is simply not possible for people within the NHS to understand what Service people go through before they are admitted to their care - part of any healing process has to be a high level of empathy / understanding between the medical team and the casualty. For our soldiers to be placed in a Hospital where they have been requested to take off their uniform in case it gives ' offence' or to be lying in a ward to be accosted by people who do not agree with the war is an absolute scandal - a soldier does not choose the 'enemy' - this is for the Politicians to decide and the least thay can do is to ensure our people are cared for CORRECTLY.

  • 3.
  • At 04:48 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Willy Van Damme wrote:

As before soldiers are simply cannon fodder to be used by people like a Tony Blair and a George Bush. It's like in World War One. The leaders talk about great principles these soldiers are send to defend. Principles like civilisation, freedom, democracy, the rule of law and the defence of peace and the motherland. In reality these principles all come down to the greed, money and power of a few mighty people. And the soldiers: they are just to be trown away once they're no longer useful.

  • 4.
  • At 04:55 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Tomislav Nastasovic wrote:

Dear Sirs,
I am very happy, because my country gave me an enterprise present as an avard os serving army, as an patriotic duty.God bless Serbia, god save the King.
Dr Tomislav Nastasovic
Medical Sergent of Republic of Serbia, retired.

  • 5.
  • At 04:57 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • owusu benjamin wrote:

infact these discharded soldiers should be catered for because maybe it was or within their office time that they had these problems and should be catered for as they were done when active

  • 6.
  • At 05:07 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Patricia Stoughton wrote:

Comment from an ordinary citizen. Our soldiers, who have been wounded while serving the United Kingdom, should be properly looked after for the rest of their lives. The governement should accept its moral responsibilities. Wounded soldiers should have first rate medical treatment and all the support they need - not fogetting their families for whom life is often very hard.

  • 7.
  • At 05:43 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • R. Birkett wrote:

This government seems to have little regard for our service and ex-service personnel.It appears that, at times,those serving are sent into battle inadequately equipped, besides getting nowhere near the salaries the dangers they are currently daily exposed to warrant. Their home living quarters look disgraceful and I think Military hospitals should be restored so that casualties can be cared for in specialist units used to the services ethos.
Incidentally it would be interesting to know how many members of this government have have family members in the services. Might make a difference if some had!
What was the latest figure for a rise in M.P.s salaries that was recently mooted- 60%?

  • 8.
  • At 05:50 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • James Bernard wrote:

In 1985 I was MD'ed for have "worn knees". Friends of mine had the same problem and were operated on by army surgeons only to come out worse than before. I refused surgery and was MD'ed. I went on a course "designed to help me into civi street". It was useless. I then went to the RNOH and treated by Prof. Bentley (famed for putting together knee-cappings from N.I. so I was told) who found nothing wrong! I missed the MD pension by 43 days and recieved a gratuity which lasted all of 4 months rent. After struggling for 20 years I now have a reasonable job and happy with life. When I came out of the army I felt I had been let down by them, cast off like an old coat. Now I'm ok about it, life's too short to be bitter, but I do get angry when I read about the MOD not doing their best for people who've given over their lives for the defence of their country. It is said this is a throw away society, why does the MOD have to fall into thus catagory?

  • 9.
  • At 05:58 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • andy williams wrote:

In 1983 I sufferred a serious leg fracture after being hit by a car while on patrol in Northern Ireland. I was treated at the military hospital in Musgrave Park, Belfast, by army Nurses (QARANCS), army medics and army surgeons and doctors. The level of car, because you remained within the military system, was second to none - higher than even BUPA. My leg was wrapped in cotton wool and bandages and I remained in bed for 14 days while the swelling went down. It was then plated and screwed together and I had to stay in bed for another 14 days with still just cotton wool and bandages. Then the stitches were removed, the I was plastered in a full leg plaster and had to stay in bed another 7 days while it 'settled down'. That's a total of 5 weeks bed-bound. I then stayed in plaster for 18 weeks, then had 2 years physio every day. A soldier costs a lot of money and the Army looked after it's investment. Nothing was rushed, nothing was too good. Conversly one of my mates received similar injuries while on leave. The NHS plastered him the next day, discharged him after three days, and it took the Army a year to sort out the mess - including having to re-break his leg. He was medically discharged and still walks with a limp.

  • 10.
  • At 06:04 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • JackTar wrote:

I was medically discharged with an injury nothing to with Iraq/Afghanistan, I was told that being X Forces and having been medically discharged I would recieve preferential treatment on the NHS. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was stuck at the bottom of the waiting list. Once discharged quickly forgotton.........

  • 11.
  • At 06:41 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • milk wrote:

The counter argument is merely one of cost. If the resources were unlimited then few would question the need for such services and facilities. We all agree that the forces need the tools to do the job in hand be they boots or body armour, but some how we forget those who are injured as they are not eye catching or quick to fix.
The decission will ultimately be at the political level, where few have experience or understanding of the forces and finances will sadly rule the day. And again it will be demonstrated that the pen is mightier than the sword.

  • 12.
  • At 07:04 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Scaley brat wrote:

I must disagree with John Hodder. Not ALL NHS staff are unable to empathise with military casualties.I may not work in a military hospital but i'm a military brat working in the NHS,and i have every sympathy for the injured members of the forces. I for one go out of my way to make them feel properly cared for and appreciated. God help ANY person i catch not treating a serviceman with the respect he deserves!Incidentally i am in civvy street because the forces were not doing any intakes in my chosen profession when i applied

  • 13.
  • At 07:11 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • G. Heaven wrote:

It is the responsibility of our Government to look after our soldiers after the have finished their duties of combat in war, to provide good mental and physical health care for life.

  • 14.
  • At 07:12 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • David Elledge wrote:

A friend of mine had his eardrums burst in the Falklands he was medically discharged with a few months pay,they didn't even let him keep his job. Another from New Zealand was working with the British army and injured her spine she couldn't get help from the Brits because she was from N.Z and of course the Kiwis wouldn't help either,she is still in agony after 20 years.I served for 5 years in the Royal Marines and I think the way the goverment treats its injured service personnel is shameful.

  • 15.
  • At 07:23 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Charles Harrold wrote:

When a service person, is discharged from their service, (mine was eight years reular and four years reseve),
the Service Records and this includes Medical Records are destroyed in accordance with MOD document retention policy.

This to me is ludicrous, as they should be passed on the your own Medical Centre for continuity.

Having recently applied for my Service Records this is the information given.

  • 16.
  • At 07:47 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Dennis Ingram wrote:

As a retired army Nursing Officer I find it rather disgusting that army
personel should not have the care a support that they deserve.
It was wrong to get rid of so many army hospitals in the UK just for the sake of saving money.They should have retained the hospitals and during the quiet times of war etc should have provided services for civilian patients, as we did at Aldershot and Woolwich. We cut civilian waiting list by half in those days, as well as providing adequate care for service staff.

  • 17.
  • At 07:58 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • John Schofield wrote:

When it comes to commemoration, the UK does a first class job - at the Cenotaph, in cathedrals and in many public places.

I must say, however, that it's appalling to realize how like a mere number people become, having served and been wounded on military service. It takes quite an effort simply to readjust to civvy street without trauma; but yes ! I assert emphatically that the wounded (and just think of the range of conditions borne in that word) need to be treated in military settings equipped with the best possible treatmets and skilled staff.

  • 18.
  • At 08:11 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • C.D. MCPherson wrote:

This Government has denied the Forces resources and treats it's ex servicemen with disdain. It relies on the patriotism and sense of adventure of young men to fill the ranks, and when they are injured physicaly or mentaly they are cast aside without so much as a thank you. I was diagnosed with PTSD several years after leaving the service and got no help from the NHS. I only found relief and understanding from websites run by ex servicemen. We stick together and help each other out. I served for ten years in the Royal Marines and have two campaign bars.

  • 19.
  • At 08:14 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • osiris wrote:

I left the Army in 98 after only six years of service. I had served 5 of those six years on ops and at the time was happy with this, for as I saw it 'I was actually doing something real',

I left of my own accord and was not medically discharged, however, since leaving I have had to have a shoulder operated on to stop it from regularly dislocating and have had problems with my knees since leaving, I am also currently having to have my hearing checked for possible tinnitus, these are all down to injuries and incidents which happened whilst in the forces.

Apart from the physical injuries I received, I suffered for a long time with violent nightmares which only started to go around about a year ago, thanks to a great deal of help from my now wife.

I have never approached anyone about any of my injuries, due to the fact that when I left I completed a final medical and had to sign a form to say that I was happy with their assessment that I was fit (although I am of course and was not a doctor) and at the time it was explained to me that this form was legally binding and that I would not be able to make any claims against the Army, but at the same time if I did not sign I would not be allowed to leave, as my paperwork would not be complete, looking back now I realise that they would not have been able to do this, but at the time I had only known the Army life for six years and believed them.

  • 20.
  • At 09:01 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Major James Davies RA (Retired) wrote:

The United States takes great pride in their 'VETERANS' of any war and any age. They are afforded many privilges and have their access to veteran hospitals throught the USA.
We also have a Veterans Agency; nothing like as good as the American model, but servicemen in general are not made aware of its existence. Within the scope of the policy of the government of the day the agency does try hard to deal with servicmens war injury problems. However it is often left to organisations such as SSAFA and The ROYAL BRITISH LEGION to help injured former servicemen to receive their just reward for disablement caused by their active service. If the government of the day does not deal with the many contentious issues which date back in some cases to the 1st World War, the problems will be exacerbated. The All regular Armed Forces rely upon recruitment to meet their manning requirements. Do they seriously believe that young men and women currently and in the future will volunteer to subject themselves to such an horrendous uncaring future should they enlist and be disabled.

It beggars belief.

  • 21.
  • At 09:14 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Charles Brindley wrote:

I was discharged in 92,(26 years service) with a Back Problem, this after the Army had operated on it in 88.
When I left I got NO resettlement, I don't recall getting any help from the Army or Ex Service charities.
I was again operated on in 95, with very little change, I then suffered deep depression for the next 5 years.
Eventually in 97, I was awarded and War Pension.
I had two trips to Combat Stress home, both a disaster, SSAFA came nowhere near me, nor did the Royal British Legion.
With the 10,000 tablets and 15 litres of Methadone I was on ANNUALLY, I lost some 6 to 7 years on my life, most of my 40's.
Once you leave the services they are not bothered, nor do they care.
At least in the USA they support you for up to 24 months, retraining and rebuilding you for the life after.
GOD help those returning from war now, as GP's have little or no idea of what they can do and by what means they can help.
I know that we signed up for Queen and Country, but when the coutry lets you down and does not care once you have given the best years of you life, YOU feel very alone.
I wish I had been able to help myself, I have been diagnosed with PTSD and have nightmares when not only do I see myself machine gunning women and children to death, I smell the spent ammunition, I then walk amoungst the broken bodies, I have tried to accpet that is now a part of my life..... for ever.
So where IS the "Duty of Care"?

  • 22.
  • At 10:57 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Steve Beerling wrote:

Sir, I was invalided out as a war pensioner after 10 years.Loads of operations within the NHS. Always top of the list and fantastic treatment.However it now seems that the treatment I enjoyed is no longer available. (I am an amputee.)
Who moved the goalposts.
I talk to ex servicemen (new)and the problems they currently have, bear no resemblance to my treatment.
Just to note I received £2,400.00.for one leg. Cool eh !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 23.
  • At 10:57 PM on 22 Jan 2007,


  • 24.
  • At 10:58 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Belinda Savage wrote:

I think its disgusting that our service personnel do not get treated failrly, especially as they are going to war for our country and people, they should have better treatment for injuries and I agree should be treated in a military hospital. My son has not long joined the Army, I did not want him to go, as they say the British Army is the best, yes maybe the best, but government do not treat them the best or care for them, I only wish my son could come out of it, but he is there now for 4 years and I hope and pray that he keeps safe from injury when he goes to war. Some so young fighting and die and injured and then their life has gone, for what! I bet Derek Twigg MP does not have a son or daughter fighting for this country, I bet he wouldn't allow them. I feel proud of my son and everyone who is brave enough to do this dirty job for our country. Well done. Get better treatment for these people.

  • 25.
  • At 11:00 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • fred silver wrote:

I WAS TREATED AT THE ROYAL NAVAL HOSTPITAL AT CHATAM AS A BOY SOLDIER THE TREATMENT THAT I was given should never have been attempted as I HAVE LEARNT IN LATER YEARS.I do not think that the services have ever had a good method of hostpitalization.Please let the nhs tend our servicemen,

  • 26.
  • At 11:00 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Bethan Hallam wrote:

Having just listened to the Minister on Newsnight this evening he showed a total lack of understanding of the views of service personnel. I defy him to come up with a single member of the Armed Forces in Gosport who wants Haslar Hospital closed. Not being able to justify a military hospital due to lack of numbers is just ridiculous. Haslar Hospital has served both military and civilian patients to a high standard for decades. There are more than enough civilian and military patients to ensure that the hospital is used to full capacity.

  • 27.
  • At 11:03 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • G.Southern wrote:

I have read your blog rules, what was wrong with my observation.?
Why did you block the email.

  • 28.
  • At 11:04 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Dave St Peters wrote:

David Twigg is the minister for veterans, his evasive performance on tonights programme was a disgrace.

Sir Mike is talking big now he's resigned, where was the strong wors whilst he was CGS.

Men are strapping themselves to the outside of helicopters under fire in Afghanistan, their mates get shot and are abused on civvy wards

  • 29.
  • At 11:05 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • mike wrote:

its not just regs that dont recieve med care i am a ta solider and i came back from iraq in may last year i had a muscel hernia to my leg i was sent to selly oak hospital 1 week after returning home i went to the waiting room where i felt on edge as they were a lot of middle east people in the waiting room then i was called out saying my rank and name of which every one in the room just turned and stared at me but that was just one of many situations at the hospital.. i never met anyone from the military to see if i was ok or anything in the end i refused to go back to selly oak and have been changed to nottingham where i have been seen with no hasle wot so ever ...

  • 30.
  • At 11:08 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Haslar exile wrote:

I thought the Veterans Minister's performance was one of the weakest I have ever seen - he clearly did not believe the line he had been told to spin and found it impossible to answer the most straightforward of questions.

It is obviously fair that injuries should be sorted out before discharge rather than discharge being done quickly leaving the wounded soldier to take his chance on NHS waiting lists. this is not fair on him nor on the rest of those already on the NHS list.

The issue of inadequate numbers being admitted to military hospitals could easily be addressed by admitting civilians too. This was done at Haslar since the 1960's. I wonder of closure of this excellent facility is more related to its value as a development site - it has extensive frontage to the Solent.

  • 31.
  • At 11:10 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Steve Fuller wrote:

I am an ordinary member of the public not a serviceman past or present. I really do think that our soldiers and service personnel injured while serving on behalf of the UK should be properly looked after by the Government on their return home. The Government should have seriously listened to General Sir Mike Jackson's views and thoughts on these matters before making vital decisions which affect these injured and seriously injured servicemen. He knows the needs and the best treatment these wounded servicemen can be given on the return home far better than the Government. No military hospitals should have been closed in my view. These hospitals should have been saved for the treatment of military personnel, who feel uncomfortable being treated in NHS hospitals amongst civilians. They deserve the best possible treatment for the service given to our country on our behalf in all trouble spots across the world. Sadly at the moment there are plenty of them.
Steve Fuller,
East Sussex.

  • 32.
  • At 11:11 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Charles Ellis wrote:

The response from the Veterens Minister, Derek Twigg, was miserable, blatantly avoiding answering any of the simple questions put to him by Jeremy Paxman. If that is the man in charge of caring for the wounded and the medically discharged from the Armed Forces then we have very little hope of anything improving. It was an insulting response from the Government over the care of the People putting their lives on the line implementing the Governments foreign policy.

  • 33.
  • At 11:13 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • bob wearn wrote:

I was born and bred into a naval family in portsmouth/gosport; my father was a naval nurse, serving on aircraft carriers etc. and at RNH Haslar. He is now buried in the haslar cemetery.

Haslar was (and could still be) unique; it provided an A&E service to the locality but was primarly a military hospital. It has/d a dedicated nuclear medicine facility.

my mother, a navy widow now suffering with bladder cancer, had her early treatment at Haslar (just a matter of 200 yards from the sheltered dwelling in which she now lives) but has to travel some 26 miles by road for contiuing treatment in a portsmouth hospital.

Haslar used to have an operation called "sub smash" or something similar - wards etc reserved for a major submarine incident (or indeed civilian incident). It cannot be beyond the wits of the powers that be to keep this magnificent hospital open, for the benefit of both our servicemen and the populations of gosport and Fareham.

I should add that I am an official of a small Trade Union in the Health sector and as such cannot be accused of having a selective view of this issue based on a local perspective.

  • 34.
  • At 11:16 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • lwm wrote:

For both interviewees to claim that there is not a sufficient population base to justify a Mil Hospital is disingenous at the least and a blatent lie at worst. As with almost all the closures of Military Hospitals there were passionate campaigns from the civilian community (who provided upto 80%) of the 'client base'. Spin a line about insufficient training opportunities for specialisations there.

Perhaps Mr S.Weston might have been approached to answer questions about (as it was raised by Mr Twigg) burns care; I a sure many nurses at QEMHC would be more than happy to corroborate his accounts.

Lierbour is shown yet again to fail.

  • 35.
  • At 11:20 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Major Gordon bonner (retired) wrote:

There is no doubt, once discharged from the armed services, injured or not you are forgotten.I had problems from injuries received whilst serving, and were it not for the support of the British Legion, the MOD would not have awarded a disability pension.It is beyond belief that seriously injured soldiers from Iraq and Afganistan have to take their turn with a failing NHS.Shame on this current Government for failing to provide the tools and resources for many brave young men and women to fight on many fronts, whilst at the same time not providing decent living conditions, pay and dedicated medical facilities in the Uk in between Operational tours.Soldiers are leaving in droves, and soon there will not be Army left for this Government to continue to posture on the world stage

  • 36.
  • At 11:54 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Stephen Ellis wrote:

Seeing an MOD Minister who will not support a soldier being able to wear their military uniform with pride in a civilian hospital is a total disgrace.

Yet he is prepared to send them to their death wearing a British Uniform in the name of Queen and country.

I was treated at Haslar and in Cyprus and if it was not for the old military hospital in Osnabruck my brother would not be here now.

So who will treat the forces when there is a national civil emergency because the civilian hospitals are full with civilians?

  • 37.
  • At 12:08 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Penelope ML wrote:

Thank you Jeremy Paxman for raising this crucial debate of soon to be no military hospitals for our servicemen and women. Why is the UK one of the very few western nations that has decided that it does not need at least one military hospital? Our military personnel,some who have paid a huge sacrifice for government foreign policy deserve the very best medical care, delivered in an empathic military environment. For those that have to leave the Armed Forces due to injury or ill-health they deserve a committment to ongoing rehabilitation and a better informed Veterans Minister , who truely represents their interests. Please remember that our service men and women are not allowed to speak out.
Do not assume that their silence supports the current government policy.

  • 38.
  • At 12:16 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Mr Edward Beddoes (ex Fusilier) wrote:

VETERAN-military experienced soldier: a long-serving member of the military who has had much active service
a veteran of three foreign wars

VETERAN-somebody formerly in armed forces: a former member of the armed forces.

Encarta ® World English Dictionary

Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005

I was part of that march to rasie awareness and can be seen on the clip as the fusilier bolting down the top of the statue during its assmebly. I and other members of "the forgotten platoon" will be utterly outraged by the fact that the "veterans minister" through out the whole period of his questioning seems to class serving veterans and Medically discharged/injured veterans the same and assumes ex forces veterans actually have access to the Selly Oak hospital for treatment.Hope fully when the programme is released in may the public will see to the full extent how much just a handfull of once proud troops have been thrown onto the scrapheap.
I know for a fact although there are 2 units they are in fact mixed units shared with civillians on the same wards, the only reason they are in contact is the fact that they try to put all the wounded serving personell on the same ward. Denzil has never been offered treatment for his leg at Selly Oak neither have i for the gunshot injuries i recived during my service. That aside its not just the physical injuries side we were campaining for. Apart from during your service or prior to discharge are you given the guidance veterans need to deal with the mental illneses that can and more often than the mod would ever admit do arise, and the fact there there is NO offical support from the MOD to help treat its veterans with PTSD. At the moment the only care an ex forces veteran has is through a CPN (community phyciatric nurse) who are utterly unable to deal with the issues a man faces in combat or service, Or if very lucky can be reffered to COMBAT STRESS a CHARITY organisation that is desperatly underfunded with limited resources relying entirley on sponsors and charity drives to provide care for the ex military. IN SHORT BRITISH EX FORCES VETERANS HAVE BEEN UTTERLY ABANDONED.
From the Misnisters statement he is in desperate need of a title change, Having reviewed the progam twice now i do belive he would be more suited to the title "Minister for serving personel" as only once did he actually mention ex forces patients and i quote "I have spoken personally to the soldiers and thier families" also "we want to treat the injured service personel", not a mention of war veterans and "i make it clear again ive been to selly oak ive spoken to the soldiers and servicemen and thier families and we are providing the best possible care" and finally "its always been the case that since 1948 that those who have left the military service are treated by the NHS". So the statement proves that his concerns were not with the issue of "EX FORCES VETERANS". This comes acros purley as "Well once you have left the forces your not entitled to the same level of care as you would recive in a military hospital. So the moral of the story remains "while your in your safe, once your out, Your not our problem". This is dispite the fact that many myself included are dischared medically from the forces as we can no longer for reasons of our injuries be usefull to the forces. More often than not i know personally of many many examples of this where your discharged mid treatment and requiring extensive aftercare. Is this enough?

  • 39.
  • At 12:27 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Colin Nicholson wrote:

It has been suggested that military personnel injured in campaigns abroad where infections such as MRSA are more common than back home should be treated in a hospital, military or otherwise, that is separate from the rest of the population.
Is there any evidence to support this concern? How does the MRSA infection rate for returning injured service personnel compare with that of civilians in hospital here?

  • 40.
  • At 01:06 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • lwm wrote:

MRSA aquired through Military Field Hospitals as a result of battle injuries/wounding/illnes? I believe its near enough 0%. Incidently these soldiers are then passed on to the NHS where some aquire........Hands up...........MRSA, YES!!!!

  • 41.
  • At 02:03 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Jeremy Brown wrote:

The Minister's performance was awful. Straight answers to straight questions was all that was requierd. It was quite clear that his visits to Birmingham had been choreographed, and that he had not troubled himself with the welfare of service personnel outside that hospital.

Of course medical staff should be shared, but service personnel deserve their own special units on shared NHS sites - with dedicated wards. Life critical treatment should take place in the best facilities, but recovery ought to be in their own units within the hospital.

To an outsider, the services seem to more openly crtical of Government than in living memory. This is not in their tradition. Something must be wrong.

Whether right or wrong, the Government has choosen to engage in recent conflicts. We declared war on Iraq and have been eager to take on the toughest challenges in Afghanistan.

It therefore has a moral duty to provide the best resources for fighting personnel; whether in "man-power", ships, aircraft or army equipment. Similarly it must provide decent housing and hospital facilities in the UK.

The Tories badly let the forces down after the Cold War. One would have thought Labour would take the welfare of fighting personnel seriously. Sadly, another example of Tony Balir's government exploiting decent people to further their own cause.

Where is the RESPECT agenda for the services?

  • 42.
  • At 02:10 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • abdellahi ould mohamemeden wrote:

have you a translat service an frensh?

  • 43.
  • At 09:06 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Brian J Dickenson wrote:

I see no valid reason why the someone serving in the armed forces should be treated any differently to anyone else.

Once they have left the forces they become civilians, just like the rest of us. Like the rest of us they have the NHS.

The bottom line is that they joined the forces voluntarily, knowing well the risks they would be taking.
Police or Fire Brigade personnel have to use the NHS, so why differentiate.

  • 44.
  • At 09:13 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Bob Bird wrote:

I fuuly agree with previous correspondants with respect to the performance of the veterans minister. He totally ignored the points made by Jeremy Paxman over the wearing of uniform.
It was obvious that he was following the party line and totally oblivious to the realities of life facing injured service personnel.
Choreographed photo opportunities are there only to grab headlines.

  • 45.
  • At 09:17 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Rockape34 wrote:

Stephen Twigg is an arrogant, self serving politician with no understanding of the Armed Forces in general, let alone veterans.

My knee was shattered and my hips and back damaged on active service in the Middle East, and am now unable to walk.
Although I have a letter stating that that I have priority for treatment for my war-pensioned injuries, I find that "Clinical Priority" now actually goes to ex-cons and drug addicts due to policies of this present government.
If I need to see a doctor, I have to make an appointment 10 days in advance.

There is also a policy for rehousing ex-cons and drug addicts (who, by the nature of their problem, are 'suffering' from self inficted 'injuries') as a priority, whereas I was told, on discharge, that due to the New Labour policies, I was not considered to have any 'local' connection to the area when I applied for housing in my hometown

As to the comment at 40. above, I know of no cases of MRSA in the BMH.

  • 46.
  • At 10:18 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Rod wrote:

If the Veterans Minister is really interested in improving the welfare and care of our War Pensioners, why doesn't he look at increasing the paltry war pension rates they receive and link them to average wages instead of prices, as proposed for state pensions?

  • 47.
  • At 10:42 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • G. McConnell-Lawlor wrote:

The Veteran's Minster's performance was not just poor, as commented above, it was also deliberately misleading. He gave the impression that historically military hospitals were left virtually empty with medical staff hanging around waiting for MEDEVACs to arrive. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The vast majority of military hospitals were utilised by the local communities where they were located, providing accident & emergency facilities and carrying out operations for the local NHS Primary Care Trusts. Indeed RN & Army Surgeons & Consultants reguarly carried out operations and procedures. The NHS was getting the best of both worlds, good medical treatment at cost without having to pay for the maintenance & upkeep of the military hospital or the training costs of the medical staff or their wages.

When RNH Stonehouse in Plymouth closed during the 1990's - forces medical care was transfered to the NHS Hospital at Derriford, 5 miles outside the city. The NHS Primary Care trust came to rely so heavily on the presence of military medical staff that when they go on military exercises the hosptial management have to close wards and cancelled hundreds of operations, as they do not have enough staff.

The MOD has been closing military medical facilities and selling of the land to developers for years. Where has the money gone and why wasn't it put back into medical service? Probably used to pay for new MOD Offices in London no doubt, after all we know the money wasn't spent of forces married quarters.

The NHS have been utilising military medical services for decades. Now they are called on to provide medical care for the forces personnel they can't cope or say its nothing to do with them.

Between them the MOD, the NHS & the Government have a duty of care to our armed forces personnel. Perhaps it now time to enforce this duty of care through the courts as nothing else seems to work.

  • 48.
  • At 12:23 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Rockape34 wrote:

Re: my last at 45 - I was referring to the Veterans' Minister Derrick Twigg - however none of the "Neue Arbeit" party have shown any interest in the welfare of veterans or serving members of the Armed Services.

  • 49.
  • At 01:20 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Steve Martin wrote:

I feel Humble after reading of some medical problems my comarades are suffering with, How-ever I have argued over several years with the Veterans agency on one subject or the other [ALSO]Additional lower Standard of Occuipants Allowance.and recently loss of earnings which comes under the heading "Treatment Allowance" on both occasions they have used the pamphlet to win.
1. Intent to Claim
[a]Although I requested a Claim form my intent to claim was after I'd had the Hip replacement.
I was still off work for 3 x months and I claimed with-in days of leaving hospital.
They say there is nothing stopping me carring out my regular service occupasion, my argument is that my last employment, was only an APPPOINTMENT Because I could not carry out my regular service occupasion.
The only reason for these arguments is simply to save the Goverment money.
Don't be fooled, they do not care as long as they get what they WANT!!!

  • 50.
  • At 01:26 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Audrey Davies wrote:

On Tuesday 10th October,`06, 21 people met for lunch, a twice yearly event in our local village of Astbury. at the Egerton Arms, Some came from Lancaster, Chester, Stone, The Wirral etc.
Most of us were members of the North West region VAD RN Association, ex service nurses attached to the Royal Navy, and proud of it. Others were men who had served in various parts of the United Kingdom Armed forces, during and after WW2. Still keeping in contact with good friends, and talking of old times. That is until today, when a VAD who had seen service in the far east, looking after personnel saved from Singapore prison camps, and escorting them to Australia for rest and recuperation before returning to their various homes., Mrs Josephine Stebbing, MBE, brought up the disgraceful treatment for fighting troops after injury sustained in this war, whatever zone. whatever unit, and whatever rank. Surgeon Vice-Admiral Sir Godfrey Milton-Thompson (one of our members remembers him) and Capt. John Grimwood.RN (retd) obviously have the right idea, but we were visiting RNH Haslar last year , and for we who served there during and after hostilities were so very pleased to find the standards we knew, are being maintained. Simon Weston has the right idea also, and he is much nearer in age to the soldiers coming home now, like thieves in the dark from war zones in foreign parts, what is to hide? and why the embarrassment for soldiers only too glad to be in England. The country should be allowed to be proud of them all.
Our question is, why are the RN hospitals which are still perfect for use , not being used for our men and women who are ,even as I write , are being dreadfully injured, needing special treatment, and in a comfortable environment , with patients who share their conditions, and staff who understand their needs. RNH Haslar had both officers and ratings medical, and surgical wards, ENT ophthalmic, orthopaedics, burns units, even tropical diseases, as well as zymotics. Operating theatres on the ground floors as well as a railway track to bring sailors from ships right up to the reception area. Possibly other more novel and new fangled equipments are available now, but there can not be any better hospitalisation for a serviceman in need now, and always than an efficient, swift treatment, with all needed equipment on hand and in place fast. There could be medivac patients landed at FAA base at Lee-on Solent .This may well reduce trauma for the waiting patient, and a sure fact of instant attention by the right professionals would surely make for a speedier recovery. In fact, it was a mystery to us, that service personnel were placed in NHS public wards, even in a situation of security e.g. recovering from anaesthesia for instance, and perhaps the other patients have no idea of the nature of war.
The requirements of military hospitals are entirely different, mostly young men and women, fit when they were despatched to the war zones, and in contrast to the NHS who treat patients from birth to death. with vastly different needs and conditions..
The powers that be who send our young men and women to war, must be responsible for their return in the best possible condition, and with the utmost priority
PS We suggest “Dorney Wood” and similar government establishments would be made available for convalescent usage. ( ex. VAD RN Audrey Edwards. W 515630. 1944-1947)

In the late 80s, I broke my back whilst in the Royal Marines, on top of another spinal injury. After spending a year a half in and out of hospitals / rehabilitation facilities, I was medically discharged once my recovery had progressed as far as possible at the time, as it was clear I would never again be fit for Commando duties.

Early in my treatment, in an NHS bed in Stoke Mandeville's Spinal Unit, the hospital's CT scanner couldn't image my fracture properly. The only option then was one of only 3 MRI scanners in the country, privately, at a cost of several thousand pounds. The Navy were asked if they could help with the cost, and replied to do whatever was necessary and to send them the bill. Throughout my treatment, I was moved in and out of military and civilian facilities entirely depending on which was then the most appropriate for my care, and I could quote several other examples of the lengths the Military went to to give me the very best support possible; including psychological.

After several years, I eventually became medically and physically fit enough to meet the Regular Army's entry standards (which was examined closely), but joined the TA instead until a further injury on duty saw me hospitalised for another four months in 2000, returning to several of the establishments I had visited before. Again, the most appropriate treatment for my condition was the prime consideration.

Due to having been injured on duty, the continual medication I now need is provided for free, I can claim priority treatment at NHS facilities, and the Defence Medical Services have provided advice and rehab support where needed; despite prime responsibility for my care as a civilian now falling to the NHS.

However, despite the quality of care being very high, it is clear that the capacity of military hospital facilities has sharply declined between the two periods of hospitalisation, and is now severely stretched with less scope for bespoke treatment of common injuries. I was extremely lucky both times, and am most grateful for it.

  • 52.
  • At 03:12 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Louise wrote:

Unfortunately, I missed the Newsnight interview and have only just been informed about it. The MOD needs to make proper provision for wounded service personnel. NHS hospitals are not suitable for those servicemen who have suffered battle injuries as the wounded often need treatment for multiple injuries covering a range of specialities whereas the average civilian patient is treated for one specific problem at a time.
My son was recently injured in Iraq. In military hospitals there and in Germany, he was given the very best treatment and care in a safe and secure environment where his medical notes were always kept with him and doctors from the different departments came to examine him. Each consultant was able to see what operations and treatment he was having as the notes were always kept with him.
When he was moved to an NHS hospital in the UK, he still received excellent care but was moved from ward to ward and bed to bed as he had to go to a specific ward for treatment for each specific injury. His notes appeared to be only available to one consultant at a time, so my son or I had to be able to inform some of the doctors caring for his less serious injuries, exactly what operations and treatment he had had previously.
It is simply not practical to treat seriously injured servicemen on NHS wards.
All politicians should go to Birmingham and visit the seriously injured young men there. In all the weeks my son was there he was visited, supported or contacted by a huge range of military staff, (including Generals, and Admirals)churchmen and women, including a Bishop,many representatives of different charities, as well as friends and family. But not one single politician visited or contacted him -or even asked after his wellbeing and that disgusted me, since it was their foolish and irresponsible policies which have caused his serious life-changing injuries. Politicians care only about self-advancement and self-interest. How very different things would be if it was Euan Blair, roughly my son's age, lying in a hospital bed now with my son's injuries. Then the PM might realise, albeit too late, the stupidity of selling off the military hospitals.

  • 53.
  • At 05:19 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Nick Hitback wrote:

I'm medically discharged in 7 weeks time, I have a family and live at present in a military house. I will be classed as homeless and in need in 9 weeks time, I still don't know where or if we will be housed in social housing or a hostel.

I have been trying to get the government to change the current homelessness legislation (local connection). This area of the legislation prevents service personnel getting housed when leaving. Third class citizens is what we are. Down trodden by our government, but will never be broken or parted from our comrades.

  • 54.
  • At 06:46 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Rod wrote:

Did you know that Northern Ireland War Pensioners with over 20% disability can travel anywhere in Northern Ireland, free of charge, with a SmartPass?

Come on Mr Twigg let's help War Pensioners in the rest of the UK - are they not equal to those in Northern Ireland, did they not serve the same country?

  • 55.
  • At 06:52 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Brian Herren wrote:

I still require follow up treatments and therapy for problems caused by injuries sustained. By comparison to many my problems are not serious but I am clear this is only as a result of the excellent care and rehabilitation treatments I received in the months following the incident.

A very big part of that was being treated in military hospitals. It is hard to explain to those who have never served but it makes a huge difference simply having fellow soldiers around and being in the military environment.

The MoD got it badly wrong because the NHS simply cannot (or certain hospital trusts simply will not) deliver the standard of care and timely treatments promised. The MoD now simply does not care: not our problem.

The net result for me was that in order to get MRI/X-ray investigation to track possible movement of some fragments I still carried around I had to go private. Pay up or wait 7 months. There was no option.

I paid over £1500. The following day my consultant saw the results and the day after that I underwent the first of three operations to remove several of the fragments. No complaints about the treatment itself, just what is now involved just getting it.

  • 56.
  • At 06:58 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Molly Hastings wrote:

Not strictly on soldiers,but is there any chance of the interview with Winston's Churchill's secretary being made available on the web? She must be an extraordinary person to have worked under such pressure and I would love to have heard her reminiscences .Can't remember what night it was on-I'm afraid I missed at as,typically, my dvd player broke down just when I needed it.

  • 57.
  • At 07:33 PM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • Pete wrote:

Having spent 12 years in the Royal Air Force, leaving in 1993. Whilst serving in Cyprus, I was involved in an accident whilst on duty and suffered a severe spinal injury.

I was admitted to the TPMH Hospital at Akrotiri before being Aeromeded to the RAF Hospital at Wroughton. Finally ending up at RAF Headley Court rehab unit.

I have to say the standard of care in all the Military Hospitals was absolutely fabulous. The wards were spotless, staff helpful, friendly and very professional - Nothing was too much trouble. Above all, being surrounded by other injured servicemen and women was a hige driving factor in getting me fit again. You could share thoughts, experiences and even secrets amongst other servicemen in a totally relaxed safe atmosphere.

Moving forward to 2007, I was recently admitted to an NHS hospital for a minor op. Never again, The ward was dirty, staff overworked to the extent they had no time to speak with the patients, and even worse, I was moved at 3 in the morning to female geriatric ward as the hospital needed my bed in the male ward.

NHS - Never again, and no soldier,sailor or airman should be put in this position.

  • 58.
  • At 08:38 AM on 24 Jan 2007,


  • 59.
  • At 01:37 PM on 24 Jan 2007,
  • Bill Glanvill wrote:

I have just watched the recorded Newsnight, and, as an ex serviceman, I wasn't really surprised by the attitude of the 'Forces Minister' in not only toeing the party line but digging himself a trench along it! Fairly typical, but we can't sack him! Wish we could.
Some years ago I spent time in an RAF Hospital, and recall that the staff weren't exactly sitting around waiting for patients, they had quite enough from the local population and therefore must have helped the local NHS lists no end! There was also a good proportion of ex servicemen who appreciated being back in a service environment.
As for service patients in NHS hospitals not only taking abuse but also being forbidden to wear uniform, that is disgraceful! It shows what is really thought of the military, it's not exactly 'we appreciate everything you are doing for your country' is it Mr Blair?
An excellent programme, I hope someone with some authority will have seen it and will start taking action. I wholeheartedly agree with most of the posts too! Plus they should be collated and posted to the various Ministers concerned.
Thanks for a useful service online

  • 60.
  • At 07:34 PM on 24 Jan 2007,
  • JP wrote:

Our brave service men an women are posted far and wide. I think it's not much to ask if they get treated with respect and dignity when they arrive home or get discharged.
The amazing footage of Royal Marines on the news this week going back for one of their comrades show how dedicated our service people are. How many times has Mr Blair visited Brize Norton to pay respect to those that have payed the ultimite sacrifice. Respect goes both ways Mr Blair.

  • 61.
  • At 09:20 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Julian Ennis wrote:

Falklands Veteran and Galahad survivor..... with extensive injuries.

The Queen Elizabeth Military Hosptial along with its counterparts were second to none. I owe a great deal to the personnel who manned them units/hospitals.

Mr Twigg, Your statement about service men resorting to NHS after they have completed service since 1945 is not entirely true ( surprise Surprise). ex service men where also eligible to return to Military hospitals if reffered by GPs. In effect it was a form of private medical care and a lift up waiting lists. I am also aware that Military hospitals took in Civilians. Docctors did not Hang around doing nothing.

Politicians send us to war, politicians restrict money for equipment, politicians wont budget for our care when we return.

Have you ever heard of a group that campaigns about the plight of politicians ? No ...... they look after themselves.

Our greatest supporters are Charities
Is that right ??

Ref Julian Ennis #61

Hear Hear

(ex Brit Airborne Warrior - crippled)


Our military has worked thus far (esp in modern ages) & always been able to punch above its weights, because of:

- types of people recruited
- motivations of people recruited.
- ethos of the service (maintained by its people)
- structure of the service
- covenant between military & society
- purposes to which military put too

But New Labour have near fatally strained: motivation, ethos, structure & covenant.

Having served the past part of a decade & have had to use rely on the same services in both military & civilian institutions, I'm speaking from first hand experience.

- An army in wartime needs access to specific services.
- An army in post war needs access to specific services
- An army in pre war mode (awaiting to go) needs access to specific services.


Services (built on ethos & mindset tailored to military needs) to enable people to do extraordinary things cannot simply be provided by JiT rudimentary local services 'take a ticket & wait'

An army does not work with substantial parts of its personnel on the end of civilian waiting queue.

But there can be some measure of services cross use ... but NO MILITARY HOSPITALS ... this is wrong & the last one about to close Royal Hospital Haslar [1]

Has New Labour & Gordon Browns bean counter never heard of history, its cyclic nature … they are putting the country at risk & its greatest institutions with such short termist view.


It's often said the military are two generations in mindset behind the society they serve.

The military cannot be subservient to civil services (levels, pressure, funding, timescales)

That is a pipedream & does not work - its having dire impact :(

As for questions of reintegration, the MoD needs to do far more, but exposing military doing a job designed to put them at risk at the back of the queue with no priority does them a disservice & does not make better 'citizens'.

We need our people manning the 'Gates Against The Barbarians' (both sides now) not queuing up too see a dentist, prescription or other medical services.

Q. what next, they shop at Primark for military clothing?




  • 63.
  • At 10:28 PM on 31 Jan 2007,
  • BGS wrote:

It makes me even more depressed to think about my treatment since leaving HM Forces; it's a constant battle with various government bodies to prove the extent of you various conditions to the Veterans Agency and Disability Living Allowance.

Then your GP's surgery splits your medical records up and is not aware of tests carried out before 2000 confirming what you have been diagnosed with and questions what you tell them and then does not inform hospitals that you are attending for an accepted War Pension condition and the hospital wants to investigated your condition from scratch,

As for PTSD etc the civilian sector does not understand military induced PTSD!

Not to worry, my birth certificate will soon expire.

  • 64.
  • At 03:42 PM on 25 Dec 2007,
  • Nick Cowan wrote:

I have been activily campaigning the issue of the Homelessness Legislation (Local Connection) for over three years now. My MP MISS Nadane Dorries and members of the House of Lords have met me and spoken with words of support towards our plight.

I had no potion but to campaign, I was an injured soldier with a wife and three children. I was unable to get a mortgage due to my future employment prospects.

I have now been housed and my family is able to get on with their life, however the support by the Joint Services House Advice Office (JSHAO) was nothing short of disgraceful. Advice will not put a roof over your head, the sooner the JSHAO and others understand that the better.

Local Authorities treat service leavers and their families like third class citizens and others that haven't paid into the social structure of the country like first class citizens.

My plight is over, but the plight for many thousands is not. That's why I continue to campaign this issue at the very highest level.

If you would like to read more about the campaign, Then please go to the Arrse web sit- Current Affairs- social housing discrimination.

I would cherish the chance to confront the Housing Minister on this issue. When I went to 10 Downing Street on the 25th November 2005, not one of the Ministers would see me. I have been the only serving soldier ever to take a petition to the Government whilst still serving. The reply I got back from the Queens PA was very encouraging. However, we see a government that wishes to drag its feet over this and many other issues affecting service personnel and their families.


Nick C
Medically Discharged (Spinal Injury)
Ex- Colour Sergeant
1 RGJ /2 Rifles

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