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Wounded Soldiers

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors were taken into account when deciding that injured soldiers being treated in Selly Oak Hospital in the West Midlands should be treated in general wards rather than military wards; and if he will make a statement. (92711)

No wards at Selly Oak Hospital are specifically reserved for military patients. Although Service patients are nursed with other Service patients when this is clinically feasible, the over-riding factor in the treatment of any patient must be their clinical condition and need. The patient must be placed in the most appropriate specialist environment, with associated equipment and trained personnel who have the necessary skill sets. Furthermore, the current requirement for hospital in-patient beds for military patients is relatively low. For example, a total of only 13 military patients were overnight inpatients at all the Birmingham hospitals on the night of 19-20 October.

Nevertheless, steps are being taken to ensure that military patients do not feel “cut off” from the military community. There is a significant military medical staff presence at Selly Oak, involved in the care of Service patients. They are assisted by the staff of the Aeromedical Evacuation Cell, the Military Patient Administration Cell and the Defence Medical Welfare Services. The military chain of command also works to maintain links between the individual patient and their parent single Service unit.

As my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary told the House on 10 October, we have increased the number of military nurses in Selly Oak; we are establishing a military managed ward in partnership with Selly Oak Hospital that we plan to have operational by the end of the year; and we are improving the welfare package for our injured troops at Selly Oak and in hospitals elsewhere—including a daily allowance to meet extra costs while they are inpatients and improved allowances for their families.