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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

NHS volunteers treat Taliban in frontline hospital

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Sunday Times
December 23, 2007

Stephen Grey, Camp Bastion, Helmand DOCTORS and nurses from the NHS have left Christmas behind to be volunteers in the Afghanistan war, treating British soldiers in a frontline field hospital. Deployed to the bleak Helmand desert, they are on 24-hour stand-by to treat the most devastating wounds in a bloody war.

At least half the staff at the field hospital in the British base at Bastion are volunteer reservists from the NHS who come to Afghanistan on three-month tours. Their greatest pride is that almost every British soldier who reaches their care will return alive to their family or unit.

Among the worst things is trying to help soldiers come to terms with their injuries, which may mean the loss of their arms or legs. “These guys are fit young men before,” Saunders said. “It’s very traumatic for them. When a young man loses a limb, his whole life is turned around. We try to give them psychological support.”

Operating under the Geneva conventions, staff at the field hospital treat not only British casualties but also civilians and the Taliban. Nobody is armed inside the hospital, and sometimes the Taliban are nursed in the same ward as the British, side by side.

“When the Taliban are in intensive care they are generally sedated; when they are awake they have a guard, although we don’t have guns here at all,” said Clare Dutton, a senior military nurse from Selly Oak who was running the intensive care unit.

“We treat everyone the same – everybody gets the same treatment – except that British soldiers are repatriated as soon as possible.”

Watch a video of the radiographers at Camp Bastion
posted by Travis, 9:43 am

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