Glasgow & West Scotland

Minister writes to Mod over Scots soldier case

Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Image copyright Google

Scotland's veterans minister has written to his UK counterpart to complain about the treatment of a Scots soldier at a hospital in England.

Callum Brown, from Ayr, lost both his legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan six years ago.

He has been treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, but claimed staff told him future treatment would need to take place in Scotland.

Mr Brown told the Daily Record it was due to a funding row.

In his letter to Tobias Ellwood, Keith Brown said: "This is no way to treat a veteran who has served in the British Army and who has given so much for his country."

Former lance corporal Callum Brown has been receiving care at the Birmingham hospital, which has dedicated and specialised facilities for military casualties.

He was airlifted there from Afghanistan in 2011 and now receives treatment at the hospital as an out-patient.

'Massive injustice'

But on his last visit he said he was told the hospital could no longer treat him and that he would have to receive future treatment in Scotland.

He told the Daily Record it was a "massive injustice" and added: "A senior member of staff told me that he was ashamed to say that they could no longer treat me there.

"He said it was because the English NHS would no longer foot the bill for me there since I wasn't from England."

Mr Brown, who served with 2 Scots, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, said he still suffers constant pain and is concerned he will not have access to the same medication and specialists in Scotland.

Image caption Scottish veterans Minister Keith Brown has written to his UK counterpart about the case

Mr Brown said that while he had "huge respect" for the NHS in Scotland, the service simply did not have the specialists to treat him.

He said of the English team that looked after him: "I would not be here without them. I have paid my taxes for years so why shouldn't I continue to get my treatment and medication down there?"

NHS sources told the BBC Scotland news website that in cases where a patient receiving treatment in England was living in another part of the UK, hospitals had to apply for funding from that country.

A statement from the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said it had 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," it added.

Dr Alison Graham, medical director at NHS Ayrshire & Arran said the health board was "committed to funding and supporting Mr Brown's ongoing treatment, be that in Scotland or elsewhere".

She added: "We are in discussion with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust regarding this."

'Distressing incident'

Scottish Veterans Minister Mr Brown has raised concerns to Mr Ellwood about how information about the funding of Callum Brown's treatment was communicated to him.

He said: "Our injured veterans expect and must be able to receive the best possible healthcare that is available, regardless of where it is delivered.

"They should certainly not be told that their healthcare can no longer be provided at a particular location due to funding arrangements."

He said that both NHS Scotland and NHS England had long-established guidance in place, which sets out who is responsible for the cost of patients' healthcare when they need to cross borders for treatment.

He added: "NHS healthcare providers on both sides of the border should be able to agree funding arrangements between themselves without the need to involve patients in such decisions.

"NHS Ayrshire and Arran - Mr Brown's local NHS board - recognises the brave service given by Mr Brown through his duties in the armed forces and will continue to fund and support Mr Brown's ongoing treatment, be that in Scotland or elsewhere.

"I trust that you will now take any necessary action to remind NHS England of the responsible commissioner arrangements so that there is no repeat of this distressing incident for Mr Brown, or for other veterans who require NHS healthcare after sustaining serious injuries while serving their country."

He added that "no member of the Armed Forces, Service family member or veteran in Scotland should face disadvantage when accessing services and support".

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