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Triple amputee ex-Marine had to 'beg, borrow and steal' to get care

Published 16/08/2015

Mark Ormrod had to raise more than £140,000 for artificial limbs and sockets to be fitted by experts at a US clinic
Mark Ormrod had to raise more than £140,000 for artificial limbs and sockets to be fitted by experts at a US clinic

A former Royal Marine who lost three limbs in Afghanistan said he had to "beg, borrow and steal" to get the care he needed amid calls for a major shake-up of health services offered to amputee veterans.

Mark Ormrod said having to beg charities for money had caused more distress than the physical injuries he suffered after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Helmand on Christmas Eve 2007.

His account is detailed in a report written by Jon White, a former captain in the Royal Marines, which has urged ministers to overhaul the way the NHS and Ministry of Defence (MoD) care for amputee troops and veterans.

Mr White, 32, who is also a triple amputee after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2010, has called for NHS funding to be transferred to the MoD to allow the most severely injured veterans to have prosthetic limbs fitted at a world-leading clinic in America.

Mr Ormrod, who became the UK's first triple amputee from Afghanistan after losing his legs and his right arm, had to raise more than £140,000 for artificial limbs and sockets to be fitted by experts at the Hanger Clinic in Oklahoma City.

He said: "I still continue to beg, borrow and steal to get the care and equipment that I need. It is a source of extreme stress and anxiety for me, my wife and my children, who all depend on me.

"Having to beg charities for money hurts my pride and makes me feel that my sacrifice for this country wasn't worthwhile. To have to go through this after having given so much is painful and is actually more a cause of distress than the actual injuries themselves."

Mr Ormrod, 31, said he found his treatment in the US involved people who "live, eat and breathe prosthetics".

"They do not have a 9-5 attitude like I have experienced in the UK," he said.

About 160 veterans have suffered above-knee amputations, including 116 who are also missing part of their second leg.

Mr White's report claims some wounded servicemen find themselves in a state of "perpetual interventions" as clinicians experiment unsuccessfully with their care.

"Not only is this expensive, but it is both physically and psychologically harmful for the patients," the report states. "Sub-optimal prosthetic care is tantamount to physical abuse, literally physically wounding patients."

The report, which has been commissioned by Blesma, a charity for amputee veterans, also calls for servicemen and women who have left the armed forces to continue to receive care at the military's specialist rehabilitation centre at Headley Court, Surrey.

Mr White said: "The NHS and its staff do their best for the cohort of 160 operationally-wounded men, but it was not set up to cope with such complex injuries and recovery profiles.

"These are young, fit, determined former forces personnel with huge potential for society yet they can experience daily frustration, delay and complications on a needlessly lengthy medical journey."

Blesma chief executive Barry Le Grys said: "We have been concerned for some time that NHS services were patchy and that veterans had, at times, a tough job navigating their way through the system with the delays and frustrations adding to the difficult physical and psychological task of rehabilitation.

"This is the first report of its kind because it gets to the root of the problems and tells some harsh truths about how we are dealing with veterans."

The White Report has been delivered to Government and health service chiefs.

A Government spokesman said: "Our armed forces make a tremendous contribution and sacrifice and deserve the very best support.

"For personnel who remain in service, the Ministry of Defence will continue to provide their prosthetic services. When they become veterans, the NHS provides this service, and the NHS has committed to providing the same standard of world-class clinically appropriate prosthetic care that service personnel receive. This commitment is for life."

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