Andrew Murrison MD is MP for South West Wiltshire. A Royal Navy Surgeon Commander and Consultant Occupational Physician before entering Parliament in 2001, he was recalled in 2003 to serve as a battle group MO in south-east Iraq.
Media attention on combat casualties has focussed on flag-draped coffins inching down Wootton Bassett high street. But the human cost of conflict has reached much further.
Sadly, the past decade has generated a substantial number of amputees, many of them with multiple limb loss and complex associated injuries. Projecting forwards, the numbers will increase and by the end of this year, many will start to leave the Armed Forces. Their trepidation is increased by fears that the NHS will be unable to provide the top-end prosthetics and rehabilitation they have had through Headley Court.
Last year the government accepted in full my report Fighting Fit on veterans’ mental health. Its recommendations are currently being acted upon. Last night I handed in A Better Deal for Military Amputees, commissioned early this year by the government.
In drawing up the report’s twelve recommendations I have consulted widely and visited limb centres and associated organisations around the country. I have worked closely with the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association and, in particular, its General Secretary Lt Col Jerome Church MBE.
In the Armed Forces Bill the government has not only referenced into law an Armed Forces Covenant but allowed for special provision to be made for those disadvantaged by their service. This has helped greatly in making recommendations to ensure that people with Service-attributable limb loss will continue to get the very best treatment in civilian life. Importantly, prosthetic and rehabilitation provision overall should benefit from my recommendations which are designed to avoid any perception of a two-tier service.
The Prime Minister’s determination to do the right thing by the men and women of our Armed Forces does him great credit and I am confident that his administration will approach A Better Deal For Military Amputees with the same enthusiasm that it has given to Fighting Fit.