Military care at new Birmingham hospital

The new £545 million Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) Birmingham has brought further improvements to the care of military patients.

The striking steel and glass oval-shaped towers of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEH) have become an instant landmark and a popular addition to the city’s skyline.

The facility, which opened in 2010, has the largest single-floor critical care unit in the world, with 100 beds.

This article is part of a special report on military healthcare.

Armed forces personnel are treated in single rooms or four-bed bays in a 32-bed trauma and orthopaedics ward.

The ward has additional features for the use of service personnel only. These cater for their specific requirements and help to create a military environment.

It has more staff (both military and civilian) than a normal NHS ward, a quiet room for relatives and a communal space for patients to gather.

A dedicated physiotherapy suite is available close to the ward for military patients.

First-class care

New hospital

  • total cost £545m
  • opened in 2010
  • 1,213 patient beds
  • 30 operating theatres
  • 100-bed critical care unit
  • 44% of beds in single rooms
  • 56% of beds in four-bed rooms
  • 3,800 car parking spaces

QEH is the new home of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM), the main receiving unit for all military patients injured overseas, which was previously located at Selly Oak Hospital.

Group Captain Wendy Williams, head of the RCDM, says the new hospital is a state-of-the-art medical facility for the people of Birmingham as well as military casualties.

“Armed forces personnel injured on operations deserve the very best medical care we can provide,” she says. “The treatment they receive at QEH is first class.

“The creation of a military atmosphere on the ward ensures that our people are cared for in an environment that is conducive to their recovery.”

Having single rooms and four-bed rooms in the trauma ward means military and civilian patients will usually be kept apart.

Complex injuries

QEH is the first acute hospital to be built in Birmingham for 70 years.

It replaced both Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Selly Oak Hospital, offering the same patient capacity of 1,213 beds.

“The oval design of the new site was chosen because it was the most efficient shape for managing movement around the building,” says University Hospitals Birmingham's (UHB) chief executive Julie Moore.

Despite its size, Moore says the hospital is designed to care well for individuals and put patients at their ease.

“The new hospital will offer the clinical expertise needed to treat highly complex conflict injuries,” she says.

Centre of excellence

That expertise was once again recognised with the announcement that UHB was to become the home of a £20 million national trauma research centre.

Around 20,000 people suffer major trauma each year in England and Wales and UHB will become the focus for improving the way those patients are treated.

The centre will bring together military and civilian trauma surgeons and scientists to share medical innovations and advances in battlefield treatment.

The surgeon general, Surgeon Vice Admiral Philip Raffaelli, said the Centre for Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology will benefit both military and NHS patients.

“This is a hugely important initiative that builds on the strong partnership between the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Health,” says Raffaelli, the country’s most senior medical professional.

“The new centre will play a key role in gathering scientific evidence from injuries sustained in both military and civilian environments.

“All our patients will benefit now and in the future as new treatments are developed and shared across the NHS and the military.”

Page last reviewed: 16/06/2013

Next review due: 16/06/2015

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