Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Bob Ainsworth - Be Ashamed, Very Ashamed

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.


Dramfineday said...

Yet another I "know the price of everything but the value of nothing" decision followed through by the current mob (they could have recinded the decision at any time). Smacks of the usual "we'll all be home by christmas" thinking of the armchair warmongers

Oldrightie said...

Ainsworth is a perfect example of this whole labour machine. Dogma replaces ability, competence is not even on the job description. Sadly the joke is on dreadfully maimed young people. caring Labour? I don't think so. Labour is for Labour and nobody else.

Jess The Dog said...

I was at Headley Court in happier times, for a knee injury. The local pool in Leatherhead was used for swimming, as the Headley Court facility only had a small hydrotherapy pool, which it was obligatory to 'dive bomb' in at least once and accept the punishment!

Sadly, the veterans now have grievous life-changing wounds, and the public can be less tolerant. There was some whining about personnel using the Leatherhead pool, and a NIMBY campaign against a families' facility nearby. Thankfully, national (and local) outrage won the day in both cases.

The pressure needs to be kept up with regard to Selly Oak. The issue is not clear-cut: given the advances in medicine, and centralisation of hospital facilities, it is better for wounded to be treated in a mixed hospital. However, this should be in a military only ward, with military nursing staff and military recreational/family facilities. Only public campaigning in the face of penny pinching will bring this to fruition, so your posts on this matter are really important.

(in fact, why don't you stand in the General or Holyrood elections?!?! Guaranteed a seat!)

Jess The Dog said...

[reminiscence] I probably never drank as much as I did when I was at Headley Court! It was (is?) a RAF facility in name, but Army run, cheap drink in the Mess, plenty of PT to get it out the system the next day. There were shared rooms and it was a race to get drunk enough to be first to get to sleep before the snoring started! On one occasion I bedded down in the TV room because the snoring was too much! [/reminiscence]

Catosays said...

I couldn't agree more with your post.

I must say I thought that H4H was sorting Headley Court out properly. Is this not the case?

13th Spitfire said...

I dug a little deeper Subrosa - enjoy it.

subrosa said...

It's just an example of how little regard any politicians hold the military Dram.


subrosa said...

Yes indeed OR, but the tories were the ones who insisted the military hospitals weren't good enough. I protested long and hard at that time to have that slur lifted because it was a complete lie.

subrosa said...

I too had reason to be at Headley Court back in the early 70s Jess. Many there were the usual injuries and I remember the officers mess usually held some of those who were part of the 'guinea pig club' and were there either prior to or after operations.

subrosa said...

I never stayed overnight Jess because there were no facilities for women. Sounds as if I had a lucky escape. :)

subrosa said...

H4H do support Headley Court in many ways Cato. They've acquired the cash to build a new swimming pool rather than the patients having to use the town pool, but I don't think they're in a position to build a further accommodation block or employ more staff.

subrosa said...

Thanks Spitfire. I've never listed the hospitals although I've been in every one of them except Swindon. You say they're wards but they were actually hospitals with all the usual departments.

Excellent posts though.

Selly Oak was never going to be enough and Westminster knew that.

I was associated with the protests when the tories decided the hospitals be closed. The other parties supported them.

As for the military top brass snubbing calls for a new hospital, I can see where they are coming from - they know it's not going to happen.

Not only did the tories close down UK hospitals, they did others in Europe such as Wegberg and Islerlohn. Wegberg was classed as RAF and was a very modern busy hospital. Iserlohn was an older building which did have heavy maintenance costs. Both provided the best of medical care along with Munster, Rinteln and Hannover.

Fitaloon said...

It was probably a mistake to close all the hospitals back in the 80's 90's etc but it was decision that seemed OK in those times when we weren't really at war and the injuries tended to be those from training, rather than actual warfare. My memories of RAF medical centres are not great revolving around numerous jabs and treatments for boyhood wounds. We did live right next to the main US Military Hospital in Germany at Landstuhl, which was also threatened with cutbacks in the 90's as the cold war came to a close, now it is sadly having to receive many wounded every year from Iraq and Afghanistan

Now we see a completely different future where we are involved in wars which have a steady attrition rate. As we have had no defence review for over 10 years the whole of the services don't really know what they are supposed to be doing and what they need to do it with and what support they need. This means that we take wrong decisions on equipment and facilities. As this has now been going on for so long we are in a complete mess. The symptoms we see at the Selly Oak and at Headley Court are being reflected throughout the military as it tries to work out how to do so much with so little. Ainsworth sadly is just yet another of Gordon's follies. A jobbing MP who has been put in a position he could never have dreamed of.

subrosa said...

It was a great mistake FL. The likes of Catterick and Woolwich had only been built in the 70s and were first class. Catterick served a rural civilian population also.

I never understood the tories closing them all down especially since Maggie ordered the Falklands operation. Mind you then she was able to use those which hadn't 'quite' closed and labour did nothing to reverse her decision.

Should this present operation in Afghanistan have as many casualties as they seem to think then the public will become aware of the lack of health care available. At present I think it's just the likes of us - the ones interested, although the Sun highlighted it this week.

Oldrightie said...

Subrosa, The Tories work on military hospital facilities was not under the backdrop of modern surgical brilliance and the survival of so many victims of war that Labour have propagated so terribly. Brown should have re-opened specific units once we were commited to Iraq let alone this endless tragic farce in Afghanistan.

subrosa said...

What I never understood, and still don't OR, is why the likes of Catterick was closed. A hospital only opened in 1976 and a tremendous asset to the rural community with a service second to none, yet no politicians wanted to save it.

It was too late by the time of Iraq. All had closed by then. Maggie should have stopped some closures after the Falklands but didn't.

The mess is down to politicians of both parties.

What's sad about it is many civilians could have experienced the quality of a military hospital but didn't get the chance.

It may have shown them what we're told is a wonderful NHS isn't that at all.

Perhaps that's why they were all earmarked for closure in the first place. A two-tier system? Can't have that.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Stop the stupidity and we won't need so many hospitals.

As for Ainsworth. Just looking at the man makes me shudder. He makes Postman Pat look and sound like an intellectual.

subrosa said...

RA, your comparison has possibly made many 20 odd year olds very happy. :)

wisnaeme said...

Aye right enough, that cretinous runt, Ainsworth knows the price of everything( particular his price) and the value of nothing; apart from his own very much over valued appraisal of his own self worth, naturally.

...and it's not the only thing Ainsworth should be ashamed of.

He championed the building of a PFI hospital on his patch proclaiming it to be the best thing since sliced bread was invented.

It has just been revealed that this £178 million hospital is now going to cost his consituents amongst other the mind numbimg sum of £3.3billion over the term of the PFI contract!!!

Now how much of that could have been put to better use elsewhere in medical facilities for the less fortunate, the needy and in this instance, those that deserve better from the politicos who were responsible by their decision making for deserving folk to require medical treatment for their injuries in the first place.

subrosa said...

That's a disgrace putting that amount of debt onto the people of Coventry wisnaeme. I thought Coventry was quite well off for hospitals but then it's quite a few years since I spent any time there.

New and shiny is labour's promise, never mind the cost.

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