MEDICS in York who will be taking the last shift at Britain’s military hospital in Afghanistan before its closure later this year have been passed fit for duty.
About 350 personnel, Regular and Reserve, have undergone their final training and assessment at the Army Medical Services base in Strensall.
Thousands of medical staff have trained at the ward-for-ward replica of Camp Bastion’s hospital over the past 11 years. But the ‘class of 2014’ was the last and this historic mock-up will be dismantled.
Defence Medical Services are determined not to lose the life-saving skills learned in Afghanistan, and so the replica at Strensall will be replaced by a new mock-up - a ‘hospital in a box’ which can deploy anywhere in the world and provide first -class care, most of it within 24 hours of unpacking. Part of that care package is a portable CT scanner which can be loaded on to a truck or delivered by Chinook.
Surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and support staff have been tested at the replica hospital against the scenarios they might face at the real Bastion Role 3 Hospital.
The hospital’s last team, mainly British personnel from all three Defence Services, will be run by York-based 34 Field Hospital.
Its Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jaish Mahan, said the Strensall mock-up assured him his team was ready.
“I have had no shortage of volunteers wanting to go out to Afghanistan on this final tour of what has been the defining military operation of our generation. Strensall is set up to put them through a difficult test. It’s all observed by mentors who can give tips and advice but it feels real.”
Bastion’s hospital is a world leader in trauma treatment but most of its work is disease and non-battle injuries.
Lieutenant Colonel Andy Griffiths, clinical director at Strensall, said: “This facility has delivered continuity between Bastion hospital staff, it has ensured that a patient is as safe on the first day of the new hospital team as he or she is on the last day of the old one."
Lt Col Mahan added: “Camp Bastion’s hospital is world leading in terms of battlefield trauma care; with over 90 per cent survivability. We in 34 Field Hospital are very proud to be involved in what Defence Medical Services has achieved there, and we feel privileged to be part of this final chapter in this military story.”