[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 22 October 2006, 00:41 GMT 01:41 UK
UK troops to get dedicated ward
Press Association
Prince Charles talked to soldiers during his visit to Selly Oak Hospital
Injured British troops will be treated on a new military-managed ward at an NHS hospital, Tony Blair has revealed.

Writing in the News of the World, Mr Blair said the new ward would be based at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital.

He ruled out reopening military hospitals because they cannot "match NHS specialised care and treatment".

The treatment of injured soldiers on civilian wards sparked a political row after reports that a soldier at Selly Oak was threatened by a Muslim visitor.

At the time, the Ministry of Defence said it could not find any record of the incident but the News of the World launched an "Abandoned Heroes" campaign for a dedicated top-level military hospital.

And shadow defence secretary Liam Fox joined the row, saying it was a "disgrace" that wounded soldiers were treated alongside civilian patients.

'Everyday expertise'

Twelve armed forces personnel are currently at Selly Oak and Queen Elizabeth hospitals, Mr Blair said.

The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine also operates from the hospitals.

He wrote in the Sunday newspaper: "Above all, they [members of the armed forces] need first class medical care with specialist doctors and nurses."

However, the Prime Minister acknowledged that injured personnel may feel "more at home if they can recuperate from their operations with their comrades".

He said that the overall numbers of military nurses at the hospital had already been increased but stressed that doctors could not improve their skills if they were "only treating a handful of military patients a month" with specialist injuries.

He said that was the reason he could not back the ultimate aim of the paper's campaign - to have military hospitals.

"No matter how dedicated the staff, no such hospital could now provide the specialised care and treatment our wounded staff are getting within the NHS.

"Burns, brain injuries and complicated fractures are all different specialisms requiring medical teams who deal with these conditions every day."

Security boosted on troops' wards
06 Oct 06 |  West Midlands

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific