NHS calls on Military – Again

Plans are in place to call in the Army again.  This time toMilitary medics supporting the NHS provide cover for staff shortages during strikes in the NHS.

Remembering what happened to me when I was transferred from a Military hospital to an NHS one, I do hope rivalries twixt NHS and the Military are now sorted out!

Years ago, when a Military Ambulance transferred me for Polio treatment from Millbank Military Hospital in London to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore, I was in pain.  So the nurses wrapped me in a sheet for the journey, rather than try to force my arms into a nightdress or PJs.

I had a full Military escort for my journey, as only the Services can provide:  a male driver and his mate in smart uniforms, and two female Queen Alexandra nurses wearing their elegant red capes. (see left) as they did in those days. 

When my entourage arrived at the Royal National Orthaopedic Hospital at Stanmore, my trolley was marched smartly in to one of the Wards. As we progressed, out of the corner of my eye I saw Sister shoot out of her office, calling up her ‘troops’ as she swept down to take over.  It was obvious she wasn’t having any strange nurses, especially Military ones, on her patch!

Bristling with importance, she elbowed the military nurses aside, wouldn’t listen to their explanations, and proceeded to whip the sheets off my trolley – leaving me fully exposed – stark naked.

No doubt this made a lively tale when everyone returned to their military quarters at  Millbank, as a few days later I received a ‘Cheer up’ parcel from my military escort.  I always remember it included delicious Meltis New Berry fruits, which cheered me up.  As did a message, which let me know in a subtle way they didn’t think much of civilian practices!

I do miss those red nurses’ capes – they were good for patient morale!  

For those of us who grew up in a Forces family, we were used to ‘our’ medical staff and their ways.  e.g. I didn’t have my name up on the board outside my bedroom – instead it said “Daughter of (and gave my father’s name and rank)”.

Demands from patients are slightly different, and today the Forces are doing incredible work with and for patients that have lost limbs.

After the Falklands War, I helped look after a never-ending number of eminent doctors from abroad, particularly America, visiting our hospitals to find out how we had produced an unbelievable amount of survivors off the battlefield.  Talking to them, they could not believe how few mortalities we had, compared with what they would have expected.  But this had come about because of new, innovative ways of treating battle casualties, developed in the Army’s field hospitals.

Any conflict is awful, but helps learn valuable lessons in treating Trauma patients. If anyone has knee problems, looking at this video might show what was done for an Afghanistan veteran – and perhaps give hope and ideas  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSE7Z9659tM&t=297s