Why a hospital hid an RAF patient

Christopher Lee - photo

27 September 2015.  London

Sergeant Mark Prendeville of the RAF was admitted recently to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate Kent.  Sergeant Prendeville had suffered chemical injuries during a train exercise at RAF base at Manston in Kent..

What happened next is either bizarre or sinister in its trend in British society.  A member of the hospital moved the RAF sergeant because it was decided that his uniform might cause offence to other patients. He was hidden from view.

Worse to come.  He was moved again in A&E when it was decided that he could still be seen by other patients.

Sergeant Prendeville – a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – was moved says a hospital spokesman because a previous A&E patient had been the subject of an altercation.

Let us get this right.  The year is 2015. An injured man in military battle kit is taken into emergency care.  A person in the A&E unit decides it is best to hide him from view in case his uniform upsets other people in the unit.

The person who arranged for the sergeant to be moved could have been acting in everyone’s interest, including that of the sergeant. He had injuries to his eyes.  The trauma level would be at the least, worrying. He may have been seen before others waiting in A&E.  The member of A&E may have taken a decision for all sorts of innocent and even proficient reasons. The hospital management says that person has been told not to this again.

But the darker side of this is that something similar had happened in A&E on another occasion. Margate is not a terrible place.  There is a lot of unemployment and not a few who end up in A&E for very minor reasons other than it is a friendly place to sit or it is a seat after an unsteady few hours in the pub.  In other words, like a lot of places.

When the remains of British Service people were being brought back to the UK from Afghanistan there was something called the Wootton Basset Effect.  The bodies were returned to the local RAF base and with considerable ceremony the hearses paraded through Wootton Basset.  The streets were three deep in mourners. But now?

There are other tragedies to attend to. There are few easily identified heroes.

What has changed?  The UK is not longer at war in the way most understand boots on the ground conflict. There is no longer a Help For Heroes tin shaker on every corner.

The British no longer want to go to wars in far off places about which modern society cares little.  British society does not even wish to take in refugees from those wars – some of which we have had a part in creating.

And so here is one example where part of British society metaphorically spits on an injured man in uniform

It is a small incident and only individually and selectively sickening.  But maybe we should note that it reflects something that America went through towards the end of the Viet Nam War.

The once uniformed heroes were vilified. America wanted nothing more of that confrontation. Could be this tiny incident at Margate is telling us something bigger than a single occasion of hideous behaviour.

The slogan across the front of the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital A&E unit proclaims Clean Hands Save Lives.  Maybe society is washing its hands of more than the germs.

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