Page last updated at 18:22 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Soldiers stories - hospital care in UK and Afghanistan

British soldiers in Afghanistan
A rise in illness among troops in Afghanistan is straining hospitals

British soldiers and their families have been sharing with the BBC News website their experiences of military hospitals and post-conflict medical care.

It follows news that the hospitals at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan and Selly Oak, Birmingham, are under pressure from the large number of troops suffering illness and injury in Helmand province.

Here are some of your stories:

I served in Afghanistan between 2008 and 2009. Whilst there, I was in hospital in Camp Bastion for five days with a severe stomach illness. It was never discovered what the illness was. When I arrived I was treated for severe dehydration and put on a drip. I had not been able to keep any fluids down for over 24 hours. I attributed this to poor living conditions in the patrol base I was operating from at the time. These small bases are necessary, and due to their locations they are hard to supply and so living conditions are poor.

The quality of care at the hospital in Camp Bastion is second to none
Brandon, Uxbridge

The Afghan people have little sanitary consideration and so sleeping in an occupied compound means sleeping around human excrement and rubbish. Saying that, no one complained and morale was high! The medical care I received was second to none. The staff were fantastic and when I was better I didn't want to leave. The other patients in there at the same time were of the same opinion. In fact, one need only take a look at the ward comments book to realise there is not one (unless jokingly) bad comment. I think that says a lot for the British forces medical services.
Anonymous, North East

I was injured in Afghanistan in June 2009. I was hit by an IED blast which caused severe damage to my face and arm. The quality of care at the hospital in Camp Bastion is second to none. I was in surgery within 25mins of getting there. In those 25mins I had every scan they could do. The care I got in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, again was amazing. I am being looked after through outpatients in Selly Oak.
Brandon, Uxbridge

An injured serviceman at Selly Oak Hospital
Selly Oak Hospital cares for service personnel and civilians

My brother was very seriously injured (loss of limbs) in September last year. The intensive care unit at Selly Oak Hospital is incredible and it undoubtedly made the whole situation easier on our family. Even in September, extra staff were having to be called in to deal with the increase in casualties, the regular staff were so tired. On the general ward, limited beds and staff were already causing problems. My brother spent seven weeks in hospital - the trauma injuries the soldiers sustain aren't quickly healed. It's really sad to think that the care and system at Selly Oak may change due to the increase in casualties and I hope both the military and NHS staff working there will get the credit they deserve for such a fantastic job they do. As for the compensation issue, its disgusting that the lads have to fight to claim what they rightly deserve for what they have given up for their country and government. A lot of the injuries sustained are utterly life changing, losing a number of limbs, losing eyesight, won't ever go away. They'll need to adjust their houses and adapt their entire future. They should always be supported by the MOD, government and ourselves and I hope our policies change for the better regarding compensation and the care of our veterans.
Amy, London

My son was brought back from Afghanistan last summer, luckily only with a heat-related injury. It took some time for his case to be investigated as he had to attend a small specialist facility run by the Navy and the quantity of cases they had to deal with. He received excellent care all the way along. What really gets my goat is the fact that our troops have equipment shortages which put their lives at risk whilst members of parliament are robbing the country blind with their 'hard earned' expenses.
Mark, Thrapston, Northants

I served in Afghanistan last year and had a minor injury. Top hospital, but needs to be bigger.
Bill, Liverpool

My nephew is currently out in Afghanistan and I pray every day that he will come home safe. I also pray that he isn't injured because there may be no bed available for him. The short-sightedness of the MOD is coming home to roost and it's our fighting boys and girls yet again who will suffer because of bureaucrats in Whitehall.
Louise, Castlerock, Northern Ireland

I haven't served in Afghanistan but have served two tours of Iraq. As a result I suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and receive a monthly war pension. As regards to medical help I have received for the condition, it has not been great. In fact it's been very poor and I don't think the NHS is geared up to deal with ex serving soldiers suffering from PTSD.

I felt the NHS didn't have the knowledge or experience to deal with soldiers returning from the battlefield
Gareth, Wigan

I got passed from pillar to post seeing various counsellors and psychiatrists and they did help to a certain extent. But I felt they didn't have the knowledge or experience to deal with soldiers returning from the battlefield. I feel my condition holds me back from doing certain things in life and I have had to accept that certain jobs and career paths I will never be able to do. As a result I'm stuck in a low paid job and not being able to progress and fulfil my potential due to my condition. As for the compensation I receive, I don't think its enough. Quite frankly, I think its an insult.
Gareth, Wigan

I was in the RAF as a medic and served in the first Gulf and Bosnia. I was medically discharged because of arthritis. The government shot themselves in the foot closing down military hospitals. If such facilities were still available, troops could be treated in their own kind of environment and be able to talk about their experiences to friends in the same situation. What people should not forget is those who have served and got medically discharged and have now been forgotten. Regardless of who you are or where you served, we should all be treated equally.
Dave, Corby

I served in Iraq in 2003 as a member of the TA and was diagnosed with PTSD in 2006 by civilian doctors. I was lucky enough to be able to afford private treatment and after six months I had been given ways to cope and treatment for the condition.

I question whether the new compensation rules will make any difference
Anonymous, Cheshire

When I told the army I had been ill, I had to undergo a series of medicals and interviews. This culminated in a medical board in May last year where it was even suggested that my issues were non military-related, even though I had had treatment for over six months. I question whether new compensation rules will make any difference - soldiers who look for help are pointed at various charities and then have to wait for years for anything to be done. Like many members of the TA, I was left in the cold by something that has affected my life. I now have work issues and have had to take a significant pay cut due to inability to handle responsibility. Although new rules may be announced I think the military will continue to dodge the issues and avoid paying what should be paid to both physically and mentally injured soldiers.
Anonymous, Cheshire

My husband had a medical discharge in 2005 after nearly 21 years service. He has PTSD and has been awarded a war disablement pension of 50%. This took nearly four years to get. The MOD will never acknowledge PTSD. Countless others will end their lives, split up from families, suffer drug and alcohol abuse. And the MOD will be in denial.
Heather, Bicester, Oxfordshire

There was an ongoing petition for quite a few years to save Haslar Hospital in Gosport, Hampshire which was a military hospital. Maybe both the government and the military should have looked at this. If our future military campaigns are going to get more bloody and casualties will inevitably rise, the option to cull Haslar was rather a poor decision in hindsight. There will also be the future treatment of current serving forces who may need help with mental issues to deal with. After all, they deserve the very best treatment available considering the duty they perform on our behalf.
Stephanie, Hampshire



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