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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 June 2007, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Army deny soldier treatment delay
British medics carrying a wounded man onto a Chinook helicopter
The Army says it aims to reach wounded soldiers within an hour
The Army has denied allegations that there are severe delays in getting wounded British soldiers treated in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul Parker said American troops in Vietnam 40 years ago were evacuated more quickly than British soldiers are now.

He was writing in the Royal Army Medical Corps Journal.

But Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Mayo said the wounded should receive treatment within an hour.

Lt Col Parker blames a lack of dedicated helicopter ambulances and "too many layers of command" for delays which he says could mean a trip of a few miles to a field hospital may take several hours.

His comments come after he completed a tour of duty last year with 16 Air Assault Brigade in Afghanistan.

"In Vietnam, wounded soldiers arrived in hospital within 25 minutes," he said. "In Iraq in 2005 that figure is 110 minutes.

"On Operation Herrick IV (Afghanistan 2006) the average pre-hospital time was seven hours.

"A Casevac [casualty evacuation] request has to go through too many layers of command. There seems little point in providing high technology in-hospital care when our patients still take several hours to travel a few miles to us.

"We have gone backwards in terms of our evacuation time-lines."

Helicopter standby

But Lt Col Mayo told the BBC that "a lot has changed" since Lt Col Parker was last in Afghanistan, adding that "we've got a lot of new equipment in".

He said: "We aim to get the wounded soldiers to be treated within one hour, and get them onto the operating table in Camp Bastion within two hours.

"We always have a Chinook helicopter on standby with a life-saving team trauma team which will deploy to the casualties and will treat them as they return in the helicopter back to the field hospital.

"You're not going to find that anywhere in the UK or possibly any country here in the world."

An MoD spokesman said: "Medical care in operational theatres is widely recognised as being of a very high standard.

"Our military medical teams have the equipment and resources that they need, including large stocks of blood, plasma and oxygen.

"Military commanders ensure that casualty evacuation and treatment facilities are in place before they approve an operation."

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