Ex-Soldiers, Bad Journalism and Twitter

There has been a massive amount of comment by people on the story that broke this morning in the Daily record. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/this-ultimate-slap-face-former-10885724

Firstly I have every sympathy with the young man concerned. He is in a situation which is horrific and deserves all the support he can get. It is important not to lose sight of that, yet he is ill-served by the report and by the reaction it has got on social media.

Comments run along the lines of moaning about No voters, anti-”WasteMonger” moans and so forth. “The soldier like the rest of them from Scotland mean nothing to the British imperialists ” was fairly typical.

I expect it ill not be long before someone suggest crowd funding.

There are a few points to make. The first is the headline as simply misleading, it is bad journalism.

Another point I want to make is a plea for not just responding on an emotive issue with a simple un-thought-through answer. Look at the facts and read the report you are responding to carefully. As it is social media becomes a mere exercise in ill-thought out ranting and helps no-one.

A bit of consideration and fact checking is useful.

The idea that the young man is not to be treated because he is Scottish is anonsense. He is not going to fail to get treatment but treatment by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is normally for Birmingham area residents. I have a friend in Birmingham who is treated there and that is because it is her local hospital. The Military specialist unit at the Queen Elizabeth is run as a partnership between the forces and the local NHS trust. By all accounts it is excellent, and it may well be the young man would be better treated there. It is accepted that he would benefit from contact with others in the same situation.

I know the QE hospital’s unit receives and does the initial care for the armed forces. http://www.army.mod.uk/welfare-support/23866.aspx

This is not an open-ended commitment and after a period the care becomes a normal NHS responsibility.

The NHS does routinely refer people out of area for specialist treatment. The treatment is a matter for approval by the NHS authority for your area of residence. My late wife was in a national centre of excellence for intestinal failure cases which was at Salford Royal, our then home authority was Morecambe Bay who picked up the bill.

The crunch bit is at the bottom of the article “ The trust who run the hospital said: ‘University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust have arranged two more follow-up appointments to determine the effectiveness of Mr Brown’s latest cycle of treatment.

If he needs further treatment within the trust, we would need to seek pre-approved funding from NHS Scotland.‘ ”

So any denial of treatment is simply not there, nor is there any discrimination against Scots!

“Treatment plan for injured soldier to be reviewed” would be an accurate headline, but not massively good for selling papers.

Now there is a story and a question to be asked about how long a service man or woman should be treated at MOD expense. The issue here seems to be the young man concerned is a FORMER soldier; as such his care comes a matter for civilian health services. Ho far this is a good thing is debatable, but it makes sense for things like general support and occupational therapy to take place reasonably locally and in the community in which someone lives.

I have believed for a long time that anyone undertaking a job deserves support and recompense for personal loss and damage caused as a result of that job. I have a personal interest here; I left teaching as a result of work-related stress causing big health issues.

The case of the treatment of former services people is very serious; they are institutionalised, looked after, fed, housed and so on whilst in the services, but often find themselves without any support on leaving, many of them with serious issues to deal with. It is a scandal there is a high rate of mental health problems amongst ex-services personnel and a high rate of homelessness. These things need addressing. The odd bout of sentiment and buying a wrist band or a poppy is not really adequate.

The way we treat service personnel needs some careful thinking about and improvement. That is the real issue behind the young man the Daily Record has sensationalised. It is important we get it right, but for now the matter of this particular individual is one for NHS Scotland. I hope they make the best decision. I suspect given the particular situation and expertise in Birmingham he will continue to be treated there. But that is a matter of clinical decision in the light of what is best for the patient.


4 thoughts on “Ex-Soldiers, Bad Journalism and Twitter

  1. while you and i disagree on the issue of Scottish independence i totally agree with you on the NON story about the Scottish soldier and his treatment in a Birmingham hospital.
    An EXCELLENT observation on the SENSATIONALIST headline in the Daily Record newspaper yesterday about the former soldier who is being treated at a Birmingham hospital…

    The newspaper’s headline stated that they were stopping his treatment because he is Scottish which is, to put it politely, UTTER BOLLOCKS…..

    NHS Scotland apparently do not have the specialists to treat this young man and so he goes to Birmingham. For that to continue then NHS SCOTLAND must authorise and pay the Birmingham trust hospital for his treatment.
    This is NOT a new thing because it has been happening all the time for both former military and civvies i.e. for cancer treatment. Many Scots go to a hospital in Newcastle for treatment because NHS Scotland has authorised it and that continues to be the case for many. NO HINT WHATSOEVER OF “we can’t treat you because you are Scottish.”

    Even if he had been ENGLISH and living in Scotland he would STILL need NHS Scotland to authorise and pay for his treatment but then, that doesn’t sell newspapers…….
    I do slightly disagree with you on one point though…you say it is “bad journalism” but i disagree. I think it is IRRESPONSIBLE AND MISLEADING journalism. To be blunt, the journalist is LYING and (i say this as a Brother-In-Arms) if the former soldier maintains it is because he is Scottish that they are reviewing his treatment plan then either he is ignorant of how the treatment plan works or he too is lying……..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not arguing. I was a little understated.Irresponsible and misleading certainly.

      I was appalled that the Independent chose to reproduce the Record story almost verbatim as well. A few minutes fact checking and asking NHS Scotland for a comment would have helped. Of course that does not sell papers, they sell stories rather than objectivity.

      Incidentally the young man concerned seems to be something of an interest of the Record. This appeared recently.


  2. This surely is a problem that the MOD should be addressing and Westminster Politicians need to address this matter rather than faceless bureaucratic bean counters


    1. John Bell The problem which exists is one of how far does and should the Ministry of Defence have responsibility for aftercare and medical treatment. My own feeling is that if someone is a casualty of war or injured in service generally then it should be a matter of MOD expense. In an adequately funded NHS it does not really matter as all expenses depend on general taxation That was the case once. .If Money is tight it forces NHS decision makers to weigh up whether it goes to X or Y. Of course some services are local and used by services people anyway, like dentists. The issue is what can NHS Scotland do locally and what is right in the way of specialist use out of area. As an example, treatment for some things can be done conveniently, cheaply and locally, like indeed dentistry, or dealing with some other simple matters. Specialist surgery is likely best done out of area. There are grey areas though. Physiotherapy can be had locally but dealing with bomb blast cases may be better done in Birmingham. The same may be true of pain management, mental health issues and so on. Given the distances and issues of demands on the patient, never mind tying up ambulances etc, there are a number of fine decisions to make.

      Really it needs a lot of clinical insight going into the decision making. Politicians ought however to be sorting out principles


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