Wounded paratrooper tries to force better care
A paratrooper who was severely wounded in Afghanistan and later carried the Olympic torch has accused health and defence chiefs of reneging on a moral obligation to care for soldiers.
Lance-bombardier Ben Parkinson, 33, from Doncaster, was not expected to survive when he suffered a brain injury and lost both his legs after his Land Rove was struck by an anti-tank mine in the north of Helmand province nearly 11 years ago. He alleges that the Ministry of Defence has breached the armed forces covenant, a duty that soldiers say is owed to those who have served in combat zones. The soldier also accuses NHS England and local health authorities in Yorkshire of having failed to meet his complicated medical needs by not providing a coherent plan of care.
Within the last fortnight, lawyers have written to all three organisations demanding that an enhanced programme of care and rehabilitation be put in place for the soldier. His legal team has set a deadline of today for a response. Mr Parkinson’s legal team told The Times that the Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group has not conducted a review of his situation for five years, despite, he says, a requirement that those assessments be conducted annually. It is also alleged that the Doncaster authorities have not increased Parkinson’s personal healthcare budget for nine years despite his needs having increased during that time.
His legal team says that despite initially obtaining an increase to Parkinson’s payments under the armed forces compensation scheme, the financing still falls significantly short of the amount required for his extensive care requirements. The lawyers claim that Mr Parkinson’s doctors have said that he will require constant care for the rest of his life.
Alice Cullingworth, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, the law firm acting for the soldier and his mother, said: “There appears to be a lack of a coherent strategy regarding his care and that the provision of such support may well have fallen through the cracks between the NHS, MoD and the Doncaster CCG. Ben has urgent care and specialist equipment needs that Ben considers are not being properly met. Sadly, he feels that promises made to him by the MoD are not being fulfilled.”
Cullingworth suggested that Mr Parkinson’s case was not unique. “We believe this action may have wider implications for many other men and women who have been injured during service in the armed forces,” she said.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman that it was “doing all it reasonably can to ensure that our service personnel and veterans receive appropriate care in accordance with relevant policies and practice”.