Thursday, 7 August 2008

New Birmingham Hospital to have state-of-the-art military ward

Dedicated military hospitals are regretfully a thing of the past; these days injured soldiers are treated in semi-dedicated wards in NHS hospitals. With that accepted, the announcement that the new £545 million University Hospital Birmingham will include a substantial investment in the facilities provided to military casualties is to be welcomed.

The new hospital will replace the existing Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Selly Oak, the site of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM). Its military ward will be capable of accommodating up to 30 injured serviceman and women in single and four-bed rooms and will have its own communal area, a dedicated physiotherapy area and a quiet room for visiting relatives. The new hospital's state-of-the-art trauma and orthopaedics centre will bring significant benefits to military personnel. Since military patients tend to suffer from more complex injuries, a higher ratio of nursing staff is also promised. They say that even robots will be "employed" in the pharmacy and laboratories to make drug dispensing and testing faster and safer (ummm?). Brig Chris Parker, Commandant of the RCDM, said: "Our new military ward will have a military manager and injured personnel will feel very much at home. There will be service decor and memorabilia." The military ward is due to come on stream in June 2010.
We have heard about the great advances that have been made in medical facilities on the frontline; it is about time that similar attention and investment has been paid to the treatment of military casualties on their return to hospitals in the UK.
The only fly in the ointment is that this new ward will not be solely for military use: when space allows, civilians will occupy some of the beds. This is a big disappointment. You would have thought that they could have provided a restricted area dedicated to the treatment of injured members of the Armed Forces.

Link> BBC: Plans for new military staff ward
Link> University Hospital Birmingham: The new hospital
Link> MoD: New military ward to be created at Birmingham Hospital

In a recent article in MoD Defence News the Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Louis Lillywhite said: "In two years we will move into the new NHS hospital being built at Edgbaston – where we will have a dedicated military ward in Europe’s largest and most modern critical care teaching hospital." Soem media reports say that the the ward will at times be used by civilian patients; let's hope that by "dedicated" the Surgeon General means "for the sole use of service personnel".

Link> MoD: Surgeon General responds to dedicated military hospital criticism