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Injured Iraq and Afghanistan war heroes are being shut out of 'half-empty' £350m military hospital

10 Nov 2019 Daily Mail Online

The Mail on Sunday joins forces with military charities, top brass and former SAS hero Chris Ryan (pictured) to call for the world-leading Defence National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) to be opened to veterans

Thousands of veterans with horrific injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering as they are denied treatment at a half-empty £350 million military hospital open only to serving personnel.

Shut out from the world-leading Defence National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC), the former troops are being forced to rely on inferior NHS care or spend their life savings on private treatment.

Today, on Remembrance Sunday, The Mail on Sunday joins forces with military charities, top brass and former SAS hero Chris Ryan to call for the hospital to be opened to veterans.

The DNRC has 244 beds and is four times bigger than the military hospital it replaced, yet is deliberately run under capacity, this newspaper has established.

In an apparent bid to cover up this policy, the Ministry of Defence refuses to release figures for the number of patients treated there.

Last night, Lord Dannatt, the former head of the Army, called the MoD’s stance ‘morally wrong’, while Mr Ryan said he was ‘utterly horrified’ that the UK’s most seriously wounded veterans were being denied access to the best care the country can offer.

The DNRC was built on the 360-acre site of Stamford Hall in Nottinghamshire. Its facilities include hydro-pools, high-tech gyms, and equipment to test for complex injuries inflicted on the front line.

But because Britain does not have high numbers of wounded troops returning from war zones overseas, these facilities are being under-used, according to military sources.

Last night, father-of-one Corporal Ross Austen, 37, who lost his left leg after being blown up by the Taliban in Helmand province in 2008, said: ‘I can’t get access to the DNRC but friends who are still serving tell me the staff are standing around looking for things to do because there aren’t enough patients.

Shut out from the world-leading DNRC, (pictured) the former troops are being forced to rely on inferior NHS care or spend their life savings on private treatment

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‘The place is half-empty. Running such an outstanding facility so far below capacity is ridiculous. It takes months to get new prosthetics on the NHS and sometimes they don’t fit properly. I could get this sorted in days at the DNRC.’

Multiple sources have confirmed the DNRC has additional capacity to treat veterans waiting for help on the NHS.

Lord Dannatt said: ‘We owe it to these very brave people to offer them the best care. It is morally wrong that those who were treated in military hospitals while they were still serving are now denied access to the new DNRC.’

Last night, Lord Dannatt, the former head of the Army, called the MoD’s stance ‘morally wrong’

Lance Corporal Ritchie Gamble, 28, was another of those denied treatment at the DNRC. He said: ‘I’ve come close twice to taking my own life. I feel so abandoned by the MoD. The DNRC has the expertise and equipment I need but I can’t get in. I’m in so much pain. I truly despair how ex-troops are treated.’

Most veterans seeking access to the DNRC lost limbs after being blown up by improvised explosive devices, which accounted for 70 per cent of the 2,792 UK casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were then forced to leave the military.

Chris Ryan said: ‘It is nothing short of criminal that these guys cannot access the DNRC. The UK doesn’t have multiple casualties returning from war zones so there is no excuse not to use the DNRC to provide the best care for as many military personnel as possible.’

Just 12 veterans are understood to have visited the DNRC since it was opened last year, referred by the NHS. But without a joint NHS-MoD funding deal, very few ex-troops will be sent there in future.

NHS England says it offers a ‘full care package for veterans’.

The MoD added: ‘Former service personnel can be referred to the facility by the NHS.’

Original Link: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7669539/Injured-Iraq-Afghanistan-war-heroes-shut-half-350m-military-hospital.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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