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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 October 2006, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
Soldiers 'on NHS waiting lists'
Soldier
The after-care of injured soldiers has been criticised
The treatment of soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan was described as appalling by the man who commanded the British army during the Falklands war.

Field Marshal Lord Bramall said once injured soldiers were brought back to the UK they were left to languish on NHS waiting lists.

"This is where I think they're not being treated properly," he said.

But the MoD's director of health care denied soldiers were being abandoned in the NHS and said after-care was good.

Air Commodore Paul Evans said most of their recovery took place in military rehabilitation centres.

They get lost in the NHS, they have to join waiting lists and so on
Lord Brammall

He was responding to Lord Bramall, who was particularly critical of the treatment of soldiers when they initially left hospital.

"They then have to go onto after care and then they get lost in the NHS, they have to join waiting lists and so on.

"This is where I think they're not being treated properly and this goes for the TA as well."

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reported that 5,000 soldiers are waiting for treatment on the NHS, while a military hospital, the Royal Hospital Haslar, in Hampshire, is vastly underused.

The MoD prefers the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham to the Haslar hospital.

'Under-resourced'

Injured troops are sent there initially before being referred to their local NHS hospitals and GPs.

But Lord Bramall said not enough resources were being provided for Selly Oak.

"It was going to be the centre of excellence, but of course not enough money has been put into it, there's no proper accommodation, there's no nurses' accommodation.

"They've only got one and half wards in the hospital, a surgical ward and half a trauma ward."

The MoD said that Selly Oak's "excellent health care" and training opportunities could not be met at Haslar hospital but a spokeswoman said she could not confirm the 5,000 figure.

They can spend many months to bring them back up to a maximum functional outcome in a military environment
Air Commodore Paul Evans

She said the "vast majority" of troops would not have been injured during combat but may have been in a car accident.

Air Commodore Evans said the majority of recovery time for soldiers was within a military environment, after NHS care had seen them through the "acute phase".

Rehabilitation takes place either at 13 regional centres around the country or at the main centre at Hedley Court in south London, which specialises in intensive physiotherapy, he said.

"There they can spend many months to bring them back up to a maximum functional outcome in a military environment," he said.




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