Ministry of Defence
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Cutting edge field hospital ready for action in Afghanistan

Cutting edge field hospital ready for action in Afghanistan

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE News Release (20/2008) issued by The Government News Network on 6 February 2008

Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth MP today opened a new 'state of the art' field hospital in southern Afghanistan. Based at Camp Bastion in Helmand province the new Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) will significantly increase the capabilities of the medical team who already provide excellent treatment for service personnel.

Mr Ainsworth officially opened the hospital during a tour of the facility, which replaces the tented field hospital used since 2003, and which will continue the provision of first class medical treatment to soldiers, sailors and airmen.

With a fully equipped operating theatre supporting two operating tables, the MTF also supports up to six beds for the most critically injured in an Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU). Two general wards handle patients with recovery needs and there are an additional two separate, private rooms, supplying a total capacity of 37 beds, with room for expansion.

Bob Ainsworth MP, Armed Forces Minister, said: "I have always had the highest regard for the medical treatment received by our servicemen and women, but this new hospital is simply outstanding. I have seen for myself the quality of the building and equipment and I have met the staff, who are consummate professionals dedicated to treating everyone who comes through the doors to the highest standard.

"Our Armed Forces are engaged in a dangerous mission here and we owe it to them to provide them with the confidence that if they are injured, they will receive the very best of care from the moment they are picked up in the field, through their immediate treatment and any subsequent rehabilitation. This new facility and the staff who perform under such difficult conditions are helping to save lives and they should be extremely proud of the work they do and the contribution they are making to help bring stability to this country."

The new facility has state-of-the-art medical technology. The Radiography Department has a CT scanner, allowing high-quality imaging of complex injuries, ensuring swift and accurate clinical decision-making. Two mobile digital DRAGON X-Ray machines, worth £150,000 each, are rarely seen in the NHS, but have been installed in the MTF. They allow imaging within 5 seconds and, being portable, they remove the need to move a patient from the ward, speeding the diagnostic process. The digital scans can be enhanced as well as being instantly shareable with medical staff back in the UK. The pathology lab can conduct blood and sample testing as well as having the capacity to supply blood products for transfusion. Equipment normally only found in the National Blood Service, used to gather the blood platelets much needed in trauma recovery, is currently on trial.

Mr Ainsworth was also shown the primary healthcare facilities which provide a general practice surgery, two dental surgeries, a welfare department, a mental healthcare team and a dedicated Hospital Chaplain. There are plans to develop the site further to include physiotherapy treatment and recovery rooms.

Staffed by around 100 personnel, the temperature-controlled building is capable of dealing with the most serious trauma injuries. Patients injured in mine-strikes, with blast, fragmentation or gunshot wounds, benefit from a team of on-site clinicians and consultants who can perform the immediate surgery which will save limbs and lives, before swift repatriation to continue care back in the UK.

The Officer Commanding of the Hospital Squadron, Lt Col Paul Wallbridge, said: "The hospital treats personnel from across the ISAF coalition nations and we have also helped many from the Afghan National Army, Police and also local nationals for a whole range of complaints, from children suffering malnutrition or burns to those suffering traumatic amputations due to anti-personnel mines."

The hospital is currently staffed by 243 Field Hospital (Volunteers), from the south west of England, mainly Territorial Army personnel who have been given leave by their employers to deploy to Afghanistan. TA medics have a diverse range of medical and clerical posts back in the UK and in addition to trauma and intensive care experience they bring together a wealth of skills that might not otherwise be seen in a military setting. This has been particularly true with those trained as paediatricians, who have proved extremely valuable when dealing with local children.

Lt Col Wallbridge said on meeting Mr Ainsworth: "This new facility is simply fantastic, capable of bringing together the skills of experts in trauma surgery and recovery, intensive care and nursing with state of the art equipment. While we were always able to provide high standards of care in the tented hospital, we were always fighting a bit of a battle with the environment, the heat, cold or dust. Here, our outstanding staff and equipment also enjoy excellent working conditions"

Notes to Editors

1. The new hospital was built by G3 Systems and is a modular design constructed from a containerised structure. It is a bespoke design meeting the specific requirements of military casualties and patients, treating anything from complex ballistic trauma injuries to everyday coughs and colds.

2. Further pictures of the hospital opening, staff and the facilities are available to download from Defence News Imagery ( Broadcast quality interviews and footage will also be made available.

3. For more information visit the website

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