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Tommy Atkins in need of treatment

British troops injured in war are being forced to pay for private medical treatment or join the long patient lists waiting for operations on the National Health Service. A staffing crisis in the Defence Medical Services (DMS) means that more than 10,000 soldiers – the equivalent of 15 infantry battalions – are currently not fit for frontline duty.

Large sections of the Army will be declared un-operational because of the number of troops waiting for surgery unless there is an emergency injection of cash. Commanding officers have been rationing the private treatment but the amount of money available to each unit for private healthcare is not enough to reduce the number of servicemen and women waiting for operations.

The Telegraph reports:

One soldier, who was injured on active duty in Afghanistan, has now been told that he faces a 12-month wait for a knee operation unless he is prepared to pay £2,000 for private treatment.

Another soldier who recently returned from Afghanistan after serving with the International Stabilisation and Assistance Force (Isaf) has been told that he will have to wait six months before he can see a specialist about his damaged ankle. He may then face a further year’s wait for an operation. He has, however, been advised that if he were to go private, he could see a specialist immediately and have the operation within three weeks.

In addition to the pain and inconvenience caused by the injuries, service personnel are “medically downgraded”, if the injury prevents them from carrying out their duties. They are unlikely to be able to undertake courses which are physically demanding and cannot be deployed on military operations. Their pay can decrease and they may be passed over for promotion until fully fit.

This is just one example of how Blair’s government is treating the armed forces. The undermining of the British military is a result of a profound distrust of it by the New Labour establishment, despite the fact that the armed forces are the only state entity that has consistently bailed the government out of its botched policies (foot and mouth crisis) and allowed Tony to play a world statesman (Afghanistan, Iraq).

Blair achieved a measure of uncritical popularity with the American public, due to his support of Bush’s determination to depose Saddam. He risked his job and support of his voters at home in order to do that. It may be commendable and we wholeheartedly supported his efforts that resulted in the liberation of Iraq. We did so without any delusions as to his statist convictions, in which near messianic zeal mixes with autocratic tendencies.

However, those on the other side of the Atlantic harbouring inflated opinions about Blair, and occassionally making preposterous comparisons of Blair to Winston Churchill or other great British statesmen, should examine the way their pet foreign leader behaves on the domestic scene. Let the Telegraph article be an eye opener to the true nature of the valiant Prime Minister Blair and his tightly led pack of ministers.

We at Samizdata.net do not trust the man further than we can throw him. So watch this space, we will be reporting on the latest development in Blair’s successful dismantling of other worthwhile British institutions.


Churchill                              Not Churchill

18 comments to Tommy Atkins in need of treatment

  • I was under the impression that your National Socialist Health Service works this way normally…

  • Junior

    Can you imagine the uproar when Granny, who has been waiting eighteen months for her hip replacement, has to wait a further six to twelve months while her local hospital has to give precedence to some squaddie who has twisted his ankle in the NAAFI queue.

    It is already bad enough that she has to give precedence to the ‘asylum seekers’,

    Anyway, I always thought that the Military had it’s own medical service branch.

  • Sage

    Guys, I love your little graphic at the end of the post. Laughed my ass off. Very helpful for all the pro-Blair Yanks on this side of the pond.

    I think I’m going to print it up and post it on my office wall, just so I can keep the whole “Churchill-Not Churchill” distinction straight. 🙂

  • Anyway, I always thought that the Military had it’s own medical service branch.

    No, military hospitals have been disbanded and ‘integrated’ into the NHS some time ago. Service personnel now has to go through the same NHS as everyone else.

    …some squaddie who has twisted his ankle in the NAAFI queue.

    (First of all, I very much doubt they had a NAAFI in Afghanistan.) You may be talking about the same squadie who will be injured or perhaps die (although unlikely nowadays) in the course of his service. You seem to think that the injuries squaddies sustain are somehow not worthy of your or anybody’s attention. I did not realise there was a wounds ranking order and squaddies do not make it to the top. True, squaddies get ‘sick leave’ far too often nowadays but this has to do more with low morale in the army and in any case does not go beyond the regimental doctor. And is is certainly not the case for operations.

    I want the granny to have her hip, but I also want the soldiers who put their lives at risk to be treated with the speed and efficiency their role deserves. They may be the ‘scum of the earth’ but they do the jobs that save your a***.

  • Chris Josephson

    This is a terrible way to treat those who fight in any war!!

    I was also under the impression the UK Military had its own Medical Service Branch. They don’t? Did they ever?

    In the US we have medical services available only to vets. The care can range from great to poor. Unfortunately, kind of hit or miss.

    Cousin of mine was disabled during the Vietnam War. He gets all the treatment he needs, some is good, some is not so good. I wish they’d treat him, and all other vets, better. It’s become a nameless – faceless bureaucracy that’s treating these guys.

    However, a friend of mine developed a bad/severe form of cancer while in the Army and received life-saving treatment at Walter Reed in D.C.. He’s nobody special (no connections, etc..).

    He was sent home, essentially, to die. He met doctors at Walter Reed that urged him to gamble on treatment. He did. He’s alive and well and a father now.

    I think my cousin’s quality of life would be better if he were to meet some of the same type of doctors my friend did.

    It would be great if we could guarantee our vets good medical care at all times, but that is not the case. I think a country owes *at least* that much to vets.

  • Liberty Belle

    In today’s The Times, William Rees-Mogg has an excellent, incisive piece on Blair. Among other things, he notes that Tony Blair is not terribly bright. I found this rather cheering as I have long referred to him as Tony Dim. Rees-Mogg addresses the fact that it is not within Blair’s legal competence to abolish the Lord Chancellor. It appears that Tony didn’t realise he couldn’t abolish the 1400 year old office -an idea that seems to have occured to him last week – all by himself. Derry Irvine knew, which is why he got the sack.

    Has it struck anyone else that the photo at the of Blair, at the bottom of your piece, is strangely reminiscent – although their features are not similar – of Bill Clinton? In the first nano-second of glancing at it, I thought it was Clinton.

  • You are correct. Many on this side of the pond, including many conservatives, see Princess Tony as “a stand-up guy”.

    Too many have fallen for this fraud. Few will change their minds, though. There is a dearth of British news here. Tony Blair will never be seen as the collectivist power-whore that he is.

  • Johan

    A couple of friends of mine in the States give credit to Tony only because he was/is an ally to Bush and the war. That’s how far Tony’s popularity goes, however, after I directed them here (Samizdata.net) and when they’ve flipped through a couple of pages with information on Tony’s abuse of Great Britian. I think the key is to expose who he really is, and what he is really doing, in American papers and newschannels. If that is done, his popularity in the States will probably only reach as far as the war goes, and stay there. At least we can hope so.

    …a bit of wishful thinking is not wrong 🙂

  • Liberty Belle

    The British Armed Forces are that perfect fashion accessory for the ambitious prime minister on the go! Prime ministers wishing to impress the neighbours should have no hesitation in cloaking themselves in the mantle of bravery, heroism and, dare we say it, the outright glamour of the armed services. The aspirational prime minister seeking influence in Europe can easily be seen swanking into the White House swathed in the derring-do of the SAS while dancing cheek to cheek with the world’s most powerful man! Oh how those European neighbours with scarcely two fighting men (fighting? – having a spat over who left the top off the nail polish if the truth were known!) to rub between them will gaze at those jets and aircraft carriers with envy and a glint of greed! Certainly such a sense of style and panache looks great on the resumé on anyone responding to a Positions Vacant ad for president of Europe! (Under Interests and Extracurricular Activities, candidate should definitely include: great mimic. Imitations of Churchill and Thatcher have the British in stitches!!)

  • Alan E Brain

    This is farnarckling scandalous. OK, that’s obvious. What can be done about it?

  • Mitch H.

    OK, is that Churchill a photoshop, or did somebody actually catch him flipping off the camera like that?

  • Mitch H,

    Just to clarify, Winston was not ‘flipping off’ the camera. He is giving the traditional British ‘V for Victory’ salute (reputed to have its origins at Agincourt)

  • junior


    Don’t be so touchy, I’m sure your defence of Tommy is done with the best of intentions, but lighten up, they are not supermen, nor any better or more deserving than Granny, who may well have lived through the Blitz, or otherwise have done her bit for the war effort.

    No military hospitals?, what prize clown was responsible for the descision to close them. Perhaps your ire would be better directed towards them…

    I too doubt that there was a NAAFI in Afghanistan, that has also probably been closed, I was just having a cheap shot at todays little lads, as you say, they do get a lot of sick leave.

    I did not say they were not worthy of attention, but if the injury can wait for them to be sent home, then it could not be life threatening, and they should take their turn in the queue – just like Granny.

    Your last tear jerk paragraph – you want them to get the treatment with ‘speed and efficiency’, their role deserves, they always did when the military had its own hospitals. but not at the expense of Granny…

    I also never said that they were the ‘scum of the earth’, Kipling may have said it, but I didn’t. I know just how deserving they are, and just how ‘regular, stand-up’ sort of fok they are, – I saw service in Korea and Malaya, when it could be said that I saved your future arse!.

    By all means show your appreciation of the military, but please, dont get so patronisingly, mawkishly, sentimental about them.

  • Junior: Calm down. Being touchy is not my problem. I know only too well what lads in the army are like and they certainly are not supermen. But they do deserve much better than what they currently get from both the state and the society. If you can’t see what is wrong with the way the armed forces have been treated by the government in the last 5-10 years, I suspect you are stuck in your memories of the days past…

    No military hospitals?, what prize clown was responsible for the descision to close them. Perhaps your ire would be better directed towards them…

    If you’d read to the end of the article, you would have seen that is exactly what I was doing. Who do you think closed them?

    Your last tear jerk paragraph – you want them to get the treatment with ‘speed and efficiency’, their role deserves, they always did when the military had its own hospitals. but not at the expense of Granny…

    I can’t find anything tearjearking about my last paragraph. I expressed a wish that those who are in the army receive a better treatment. Grannies are very important and I shall write a post about that, if you wish, but they were not the point of this one…

    I also never said that they were the ‘scum of the earth’, Kipling may have said it, but I didn’t.

    I believe, it was Wellington…he should know what he was talking about and he looked after them just fine…

    I saw service in Korea and Malaya, when it could be said that I saved your future arse!

    Thank you for your brave service, but I very much doubt you saved my future arse. The kind of people you were fighting in Korea and Malaya had already ruined my parents’ generation and a fair chunks of my early life…

    By all means show your appreciation of the military, but please, dont get so patronisingly, mawkishly, sentimental about them.

    I doubt I will ever be sentimental about the military which has been screwing up my life big time for some time now. However, I will give respect where it’s due as from what I have seen up-close, and believe me it is often uncomfortably close, it does deserve more appreciation than it gets in today’s Britain. As a result, I intend to express it as often as I can.

  • Junior


    Point taken, but then Granny and Squaddie both get a raw deal from the State. My point was that, sure they deserve appreciation, but not one at the expense of the other.

    You think the Government treats soldiers badly, try looking in on some of the old folk in your neighbourhood, and see just what they have to put up with, and dont forget that a fair few of them have been just as close to a real war as you, or the much vaunted soldier, has.

    My generation, and the generation before that, has been just as inconvenienced by the military and various wars as you seem to have been, only then we had to serve, and there was no choice about it.

    At this time the public stands almost as much chance of being killed as does the ‘on-duty’ soldier, terrorism being what it is.

    Sure, show your appreciation and respect, but in a way that is not at the expense of others, and dare I say it, of just as worthy folk.

    I am not trying to denigrate the military, but I am trying to stop the elderly from getting an even worse deal from the NHS than they do at this time.

    Have you read the item about patients over sixty being removed from doctor lists, to accomodate asylum seekers?. I know that it is not relevant to this Post, but it is an example of the treatment that I am bitching about.

    It is all too easy to be appreciative and generous at someone else’s expense, which is what Statists are very good at doing. Did I hear you say that you thought the queue jumping was OK?.

  • Junior: I think you rather miss Gabriel’s point and I doubt you understand the way he sees the world. I can say with little risk of contradiction that Gabriel thinks Granny would be better served not by increasing the money given to the NHS but by abolishing it completely. The military, however, being one of the few legitimate fucntions of the state, is indeed responsible for the health and welfare of the volunteers who defend us with their lives.

    By the way, you seem to feel strongly about how the abominable NHS treats the elderly. We share your concerns.

  • Junior: I understand now where you are coming from and I agree wholeheartedly. Both the elderly and the soldiers are neglected by those who claim to provide for them. But our point is that this is the case for everyone who has anything to do with the state.

    Of course, queue jumping is wrong, for two reasons. Because it is unfair on those you ‘jump over’ and secondly, because there is a queue in the first place.

  • Junior

    Gabriel, Perry,

    Thank you for your time spent in replying to my little snit.

    I too, think Granny would be better served by the NHS being abolished, but that doesn’t help those who have been forced to contribute to the Ponzi scheme all of their lives. They are now too old to replace their healthcare provider (NHS), with a private equivalent, and even if they could their premiums would be unaffordable.

    Now if they had been able to contribute to a scheme from an early age, things might be different. — Wait, wasn’t that exactly what they were doing when being smooth talked into accepting the NHS, in the first place?. Diito for pensions…

    I wish that someone would wake me from the total nightmare that passes for UK politics……