Sunday, March 11, 2007

Used and abused

It is utterly astounding how closely the sensibilities of Tony Blair's government track those of the Bush administration and the latest exposure is not about fastening down the police state, ginning up intelligence or humping for illegal war. After the current Walter Reed scandal in the US, which unsurprisingly applies to a far wider scope of VA treatment, we now learn that the Brits have been likewise neglecting their own wounded soldiers.
A shocking picture of neglect and the appalling treatment of wounded British troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan emerged last night in a remarkable series of letters from soldiers' families obtained by The Observer.

The sheaf of complaints, passed on by deeply alarmed senior military sources, claims that soldiers have been deprived of adequate pain relief and emotional support, and in some cases are unable to sleep because of night time noise in the NHS facilities caring for them.

The NHS last night said that it had launched an inquiry into the complaints.

One letter sent to the MoD and NHS managers reveals how the youngest British soldier wounded in Iraq, Jamie Cooper, was forced to spend a night lying in his own faeces after staff at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital allowed his colostomy bag to overflow. On another occasion his medical air mattress was allowed to deflate, leaving him in 'considerable pain' overnight despite an alarm going off.
Details of the complaints regarding British soldiers' care last night provoked shock and indignation both from Opposition politicians and senior military figures. Tony Blair's long-time Chief of Defence Staff, Lord Guthrie, said the letters revealed a 'scandalous' failure of care which the government and the military had an 'urgent' duty to fix. In remarks that will be seen as particularly damning given his personal friendship with the Prime Minister, Guthrie added: 'The handling of the medical casualties from both Afghanistan and Iraq is a scandal.'

He said the blame did not lie with NHS staff, but with a 'lack of leadership and drive' by senior military medical officers and government ministers in addressing the need to provide purely military-run care for at least the most serious casualties.
Excuses abound, of course, with the Ministry of Defence explaining away their appalling inabilities by saying that things are "very complex."


Blogger The Misanthrope said...

I heard on Meet the Press this morning that vets have always been treated poorly. The initial treatment is good, but follow up is bad. This is shameful for a country that pays a lot of lip service to supporting the troops.

4:03 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...


Yes, this is indeed true. And Vietnam vets were especially badly treated, a shameful legacy that continues to this day, not only with the vast numbers of homeless, neglected Vietnam vets, but with Gulf War vets and now the current crop of wounded from Iraq.

8:10 PM  

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