Badly wounded soldiers are subjected to a “postcode lottery” of care on the NHS when they leave the Services, charity chiefs have told MPs.From the Daily Telegraph:
Despite government promises on the Military Covenant, which is soon to be enshrined in law, veterans are also receiving the same priority for council housing as former prisoners.
Air Vice Marshal Tony Stables told the Commons Defence Committee said the treatment wounded troops received after being released from the rehabilitation centre at Headley Court was a matter of chance.
“The delivery and support of veterans by other government departments is the subject of postcode lottery that is compounded by devolved administrations,” said the retired officer, who is chairman of the Confederation of Service Charities.
He added that a soldier had made the point to him that “‘I lost my leg in the service of my country not in the service of East Midlands.’”
Wounded veterans are also facing further difficulties as advances in prosthesis means that NHS technicians are struggling to understand how to fit them to limbs properly.
The latest Ministry of Defence figures show that there have been more than 2,000 servicemen wounded in action on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of them are amputees that will need care for life.
Some soldiers are still receiving the same standard of care as criminals when it came to housing AVM Stables told the committee, that was taking evidence on military casualties.
“I was recently talking with mayor of Solihull who said priority for the provision of social housing for ex members of the armed forces was equal to that of prisoners coming out of prison.
“He said do you think that is right?”
While charities such as Help For Heroes have received more than £100 million in public donations the charity chiefs, including the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, said public funding should not make up for the “shortfall” of facilities that should be paid for by the Government.
Under the Armed Forces Bill going through Parliament an obligation will be put on a statutory footing to ensure fair and proper treatment for those who risk their lives for Britain.
Free bus passes will be given to seriously wounded veterans, including amputees and those with head injuries.
Men who have suffered genital injuries will be given three free courses of IVF treatment funded by the NHS; troops on operations will get a 50 per cent rebate on council tax, up from a 25 per cent rebate; and a “Veterans’ Card” will be given to all serving and former military personnel giving a discount at a variety of shops and sports events.
Councils will also be ordered to prioritise soldiers, sailors and airmen for housing.
A previous Whitehall report has shown that more than a third of GPs were unaware that war pensioners should be given priority, while those that did know received their information from the media rather than Whitehall.
- Source article 20/06/11 by Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent, Daily Telegraph: Wounded soldiers face 'postcode lottery' of care