Woundcare 4 Heroes is a 'voice' for combat wounded

James Fletcher James Fletcher was injured in Afghanistan in 2007

Related Stories

"It will be a voice for us, which is what we need, someone that's willing to say, 'this isn't good enough' and 'this needs changing'."

James Fletcher, aged 32, from Chepstow, Wales, lost most of the thigh muscle in his right leg and a significant amount in his left leg after being injured by a grenade in Afghanistan in 2007.

He was talking at the launch of a new West Midlands-based charity called Woundcare 4 Heroes. Its aim is to provide specialist wound care to former members of the military.

Mr Fletcher, who was medically discharged from 40 Commando Royal Marines in September, said: "At the time my injuries hadn't been dealt with before and the treatment I received was disappointing.

"This charity is looking to bring the knowledge and expertise that's lacking in the NHS, which will be important because a lot of servicemen and women don't like to complain.

"Our attitude is to just get on with the job and deal with the situation. They'll help themselves rather than be a burden or hindrance to staff."

'Put up with it'

The charity's business development director, Graeme Cooper from Kidderminster in Worcestershire, said it had taken a while for the "gap" between military and NHS wound care to be recognised.

Mr Cooper said: "We've spoken to people who've travelled all the way from Kent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QE) in Birmingham just to get a dressing changed, but they accept it and they just put up with it.

"The NHS is already very stretched and these types of injuries are unique to the armed forces. They're blast-type injuries and severe burns that tend to be in relatively fit young men and women.

"Trauma care in the UK is not something we do particularly well. We don't have trauma centres like the Americans have, and that's not belittling the NHS in any way."

Start Quote

The problems start to arise when people are cascaded out of the military”

End Quote Claire Stephens Woundcare 4 Heroes founder

The Department of Health welcomed the support offered by Woundcare 4 Heroes, and agreed the type of wounding suffered in war could be very different from those in civilian life.

A spokesperson said: "We work closely with the Ministry of Defence, NHS, armed forces networks and service charities to make sure those wounded whilst serving their country continue to get the right care they need once they leave the armed forces.

"Much of the wound care received by those still serving will be provided by the NHS."

The charity's founder and chief executive, Claire Stephens from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, worked at the QE for 17 years before serving as a nursing officer captain of The Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps.

She was then injured in Afghanistan and medically discharged last year.

Ms Stephens said: "I have the benefit of working in the NHS and during my rehabilitation I was exposed to the gaps that exist.

Claire Stephens Claire Stephens hopes the charity will support patients and carers living with a wound

"When people are cared for within the military they're in a very secure and contained bubble, and the care at Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Birmingham is second to none.

"But the problems start to arise when people are cascaded out of the military."

A spokesman for the charity Afghan Heroes said there were up to 4,000 wounded former servicemen and women in the UK.

Mr Cooper said: "A lot of my colleagues injured in the Falklands are still trying to access the right kind of care.

"Had they received better care along the way, their lives may have been very different."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More England stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show


  • A robotClick Watch

    The latest in robotics including software that can design electronics to solve problems

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.