Patients aeromedically evacuated from their theatre of operation and also from expeditionary operations and exercises around the world are transported by the RAF Aeromed team operating from Brize Norton.
Only about 20% of aeromed patients actually come to Birmingham, the others will progress from the UK arrival airport into the Primary Health Care pathway which best suits their clinical and geographical needs.
The Aeromed Cell based at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) provide the expertise and co-ordination of the arrival of military patients who need to be admitted to hospital.
Generally we get about 24-48 hours notice of incoming patients, and the Aeromed Cell liaise direct with the NHS Trust to determine the best clinical pathway for each patient within Birmingham.
Those that arrive at Birmingham tend to be those with multiple trauma and 'Listed' patients (listed means a patient is categorised as Very Seriously Injured (VSI), Seriously Injured (SI) or Incapacitating Illness or Injury (III)).
Listed patients are entitled to DILFOR (Dangerously Ill forwarding of Relatives), which means accommodation, travel and subsistence are provided at public expense for the immediate family.
Patient Support Services (PSS) provide a number of roles which include; daily visits to patients, practical support, signposting for non clinical matters and provision of accommodation and transport.
There is always an Military Liaison Officer (MLO) and Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) Welfare Worker on call 24 hours a day. The Patient Support Services Team, particularly the DMWS are pivotal in the arrival of the Patient Group to QEHB.
Once we know a casualty is inbound, contact is made with the Visiting Officer, Unit Escorting Officer or unit, to assist in the co-ordination of arrival, accommodation, briefing and then escorting the Patient Group to the bedside at the appropriate time.
One essential element of the 'military bubble' is a daily meeting of all agencies and departments who have a responsibility for the patient and patient group. They meet to ensure all needs, concerns and issues are known by the relevant experts and the appropriate action is taken during the patient's time at Birmingham. Furthermore, where a long term welfare requirement is identified, referral is made to the appropriate single Service Welfare Agency.
The Phrase 'military bubble' probably conjures all manner of notions and pictures in ones mind, from camouflaged postage wrapping materials to an overweight soldier! In fact it is an important 'effect' we at QEHB strive to put into place for the wounded and injured returning to QEHB and surrounding hospitals.
The Patient Support Services mission is simple:
'' To manage the initial reception of the patient group and their time at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, to relieve them of any administrative burdens and to provide first line practical and welfare support, thus allowing the patient group to concentrate on the recovery of the Patient''.