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Patients: frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about hospital care

Find answers to the questions most commonly asked by military patients treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB).

Can I watch TV on the ward at QEH?

Each bed is equipped with a personal TV and telephone service, which patients are charged to use. There is a wide selection of digital TV channels, including BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV 1, Channel 4, Channel 5 and satellite channels, such as ITV 2 and 3, Sky Sports News, UKTV History and many more (regional variations apply). There are also films and free TV previews for patients to see what's on offer, as well as free TV periods each day, courtesy of Premier TV.

Where will I be admitted and treated?

Military patients, just as civilian patients, are admitted onto the NHS ward most suited to deal with their clinical and nursing care requirements. Service personnel with traumatic injuries are generally admitted to a section of the QEHB trauma ward. Although it is not exclusive to military personnel, the ward manager will always try to group military patients together. A military "day room" is also located on the ward, which can be used by these patients and their families.

Is there access to the internet?

Yes. The bedside TV and telephone service also offers patients a secure internet service, with access to personal email accounts.

Will I have a room of my own?

Armed forces personnel are treated in single rooms or four-bed bays in a 32-bed military section located in the trauma and orthopaedics ward. The ward has additional features for the use of service personnel only. Depending on their clinical needs, military patients may also be moved to another part of University Hospitals Birmingham.

Can I leave the ward when I want to?

Yes, as long as it is considered clinically appropriate.

Are patients provided with clothing and toiletries?

When injured service members are evacuated, they often arrive in the UK without their personal belongings. The Defence Medical Welfare Services (DMWS) charity and other voluntary organisations supply them with essentials, including basic toiletries, a full shaving kit, a pair of trainers, socks, underwear, tracksuits and warm clothing. Non-essential items are also supplied, such as DVDs, books, games and snacks.

Can I keep in touch with my battalion?

Yes. Many military patients feel a strong desire to remain in contact with their buddies. There are military liaison officers on-site, whose duties include tending to the patients' daily welfare needs, dealing with discipline and matters relating to service life, and maintaining links with the patients' battalions.

Will I be able to go home for brief periods during my treatment?

Yes, as long as it is considered clinically appropriate. 

What happens when I'm fit to leave hospital?

Once you have been discharged from hospital, you may be referred to either the armed forces' main rehabilitation facility at Headley Court in Surrey or a Regional Rehabilitation Unit (RRU) for further recovery. Alternatively, you may be sent home on sick leave for the rest of your convalescence, or you may be deemed fit to return to your unit.

Is there accommodation for families at Headley Court?

Unlike QEHB, which usually caters for families, there is no accommodation for visiting family members at Headley Court. However, the charity Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) provides a spacious six-bedroom home for visiting relatives in Ashtead, two miles away from Headley Court.

SSAFA Norton House is fully accessible to the disabled and allows injured servicemen and women to visit their relatives and spend quality time with them.

Can I get help for mental health issues while serving abroad?

Yes. While service members are serving abroad, trained mental health staff are on hand to provide appropriate levels of support. Mental health staff give pre- and post-deployment briefings and provide support, assessment and (if needed) treatment, both during and after deployments.

This help is available to all service members, including mobilised reservists. There are also community psychiatric nurses at QEHB and Headley Court for all patients going through treatment.

Can I get help for mental health issues back home?

Once back at your home base, community-based mental health care is available at the Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) 15 Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMH) across the UK. DCMHs are staffed by psychiatrists, mental health nurses, clinical psychologists and mental health social workers.

Inpatient mental health care services in the UK are provided under contract by a partnership of eight NHS trusts. This partnership is led by the South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Service personnel are assessed, stabilised and treated in hospitals as close as possible to their home or parent unit.

How soon can I get treatment for muscular and bone injuries?

Service personnel with a musculoskeletal condition receive rapid access to diagnosis and, for the minority who need it, surgery in NHS facilities.

Those needing only physiotherapy and rehabilitation treatment (the majority) are treated in the MoD's own RRUs. These include the flagship centre: Headley Court, in Surrey.

Typically, these patients will start physiotherapy within four to six weeks of the decision on how to treat them. If surgery is necessary, the MoD arranges fast access to surgery from its own hospital units, other NHS trusts and from the independent sector. This happens within six weeks of the decision on the patient's treatment.

Page last reviewed: 24/06/2015

Next review due: 31/08/2017