In April 2001 it was decided that Birmingham would accept the worldwide areomedical evacuation of military patients requiring acute hospital admission or urgent out-patient review. This partnership combines the very best of military and NHS medicine and Selly Oak (now the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham) and the Trust has quickly established itself as providing the very best of polytrauma medicine in the UK. The out going CGS, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt has said ' there is nowhere better in the country, nowhere more expert at polytrauma medicine than that hospital in Selly Oak, that's why our people are there'.
Birmingham was chosen by the Department of Health not only because of its reputation as a world renowned medical university, its innovative research and practices but also because of the diversity of treatment and expertise available.
Amongst the five hospitals in and around Birmingham that military personnel may use over 40 medical disciplines are covered with only gynaecology, paediatrics and psychiatry not being provided, with the added convenience of good road and rail links and Birmingham Airport on the door step.
In 2001 when Birmingham was chosen for the receipt and treatment of military patients the contract was set up for 30-40 areomeds per month. In 2006/07 the numbers arriving monthly at Selly Oak exceeded this figure with July 2007 seeing 170 patients arriving in a single month. It soon became clear that more support resources and a higher visual military presence should be put in place to increase the administration, practical and welfare support to the military casualties.
Improved military staffing at RCDM in support of the NHS staff was the answer. This included bringing military nurses onto the main trauma ward. The majority of our military patients are admitted to this ward (because of the nature of their injuries) and the NHS Trust makes every effort to keep our guys together so long as it is clinically safe to do so. These extra staff produce the visible 'military effect' ensuring patients always have access to military staff with whom they may well feel more comfortable to talk and of course use 'military speak'.
Military Nurse Co-ordinators were also brought in to make daily visits to military patients in the outlaying hospitals where there is not such a large concentration of military clinical staff. This allows the patients and families to spend time receiving medical briefs on the very often complicated treatment pathways.
In addition, a large number of other non-clinical staff and resources have been put into Selly Oak and thus Patient Support Services were created. The team currently led by Major Andy Kempster AGC (ETS) comprises the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS), the Army Welfare Service (AWS), Naval Personnel and Families Service (NPFS) and Soldiers, Sailors, Air Force Association (SSAFA) all of which are located at Birmingham.
One unique additional resource placed at RCDM are the Military Liaison Officers (MLO). These are Warrant Officers from the deployed Brigades, who are deployed to Birmingham for the duration of the op tour. They provide the vital links between family, rear parties, and deployed Commanders.
In the beginning there were just two MLOs but it was quickly realised that more were required and Navy and RAF Command MLOs are now in place, providing a Dark and Light Blue presence as well as a Green one.
We are working together with UHBFT on plans for the future.