The Royal Haslar Hospital in Gosport was the UK's last military-run hospital and it shut its doors in 2009. It was the last of eight military hospitals to close following a review of services by the Conservative government in the 1990s and it had provided medical care since 1753.
The government said military-run hospitals cannot match the specialist care provided by NHS hospitals. Yet the British military hospital at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan is staffed by military personnel who are said to be second to none in their ability to save lives. Camp Bastion not only treats British troops but a combination of international security assistance force troops, Afghan soldiers and civilians.
I defy anyone who has experience of a military hospital to say the care and treatment was not first class. In the 70s many military hospitals opened their doors to civilian patients and within months they had lengthy waiting lists - a sure sign that the medical services provided were second to none. The reason for the closures was little to do with specialist care, it was an excuse to save money. What hospital in the UK has specialist care in every area of medicine?
We have been at in conflict with Afghanistan since 2001 and therefore the government has had plenty time to plan medical treatment access for injured troops. It hasn't done so. The access has been piecemeal and, although now seriously stretched, military medics report it will not cope with further casualties, both in urgent medical care and essential rehabilitation.
In the UK we have Selly Oak, Birmingham providing the only acute medical facility for the military and Headley Court, Leatherhead, which offers rehabilitation to those who have survived the most horrific injuries.
The National Audit Office has warned UK hospitals face 'increasing pressure' to treat wounded troops and need more beds. It also revealed the field hospital at Camp Bastion in Helmand is 'close to capacity'.
But the most startling statement is that Headley Court is being forced to rotate treatment with new amputees and this process is stalling their progress. The centre has 151 patients injured in Afghanistan and Iraq but just 66 beds for immobile veterans and 15 who can move.
Now it has emerged triple amputee Mark Ormrod, 25, raised thousands in charity cash to pay for a three-week intensive course at a private American centre. Triple amputee Tom Neathway, 25, is also due to go thanks to cash donated from his regimental fund.
One patient said: "The staff are brilliant here, but there aren't nearly enough of them. They can't give the lads their full attention. There is also nowhere for all of us ti stay so we have to come and go.
"Everyone has seen the amazing progress Mark made in the States. If the MoD won't do it for us, we'll do it for ourselves."
MoD bosses are urgently looking to add 30 more beds but an official insisted patients recover "better and faster" if they are rotated. What utter nonsense! Doesn't it show the level of respect our politicians have for our troops when they continued to close down military hospitals while our forces are deployed in war?
We must not forget those who are in need of mental health services but are denied them because they are not available. The UK's record in mental health has been poor for many years and the closure of military hospitals which had psychiatric services left it poorer. Little or no action has been taken by government to ensure MH treatment is available to those who put their lives on the line for us. What kind of government throws millions of pounds at 'climate change' organisations and countries such as China and India for 'development' yet is content to allow our veterans to suffer the effects of war?
Remember the conference a few weeks ago when it was declared the UK would be offering bribes to the Taliban to lay down their arms? Yesterday Bob Ainsworth had to acknowledge that the Taliban leadership refuses to play ball. Quelle surprise.
He also told the Defence Committee that Operation Moshtarak (about to be launched) had been announced in advance in part to help avoid civilian casualties. Did he never think that by forewarning the enemy he had put our troops in far more danger than ever? The Taliban will run to the hills, in their wake strewing IEDs, which will kill numerous civilians as well as military.
Yes Bob Ainsworth, be ashamed, very ashamed.