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Camp Bastion Field Hospital and Medical Treatment Facility MTF Helmand Territory Southern Afghanistan
Information about the tented and solid building tri service hospital Medical Treatment Facility MTF at Camp Bastion in the Helmand Territory of Southern Afghanistan
The forward based facility Camp Bastion Field Hospital in Helmand Territory Southern Afghanistan has been a tented hospital since 2003. By 2008 the deployment of the British military to Afghanistan increased and there was a need for a more solid structure so that the capability of the British military medical team in the Helmand Territory could be increased. On the 6 February 2008 the Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) was officially opened by the Armed Forces Minister Mr Bob Ainsworth.
Since the deployment of the British army to Southern Afghanistan members of the Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) and the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) have been deployed to the Helmand region to serve alongside their Navy and Royal Air Force (RAF) colleagues. Together they have cared for sick and wounded tri service personal, members of the Afghan National army and police force, International troops and injured civilians who may have sustained injuries as a result of Taliban suicide bombings or military air strikes. The tri service medical group are collectively called the Joint Force Med Group (JFMG).
During this time units posted to the Camp Bastion Field Hospital and Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) Helmand Territory Southern Afghanistan have included 22 Field Hospital from Aldershot, England and 243 (Wessex) Field Hospital (Volunteers).
In 2008 203 Field Hospital Unit were deployed to Camp Bastion and they were filmed for an ITV series in 2009 called Doctors and Nurses at War. The programme makers filmed them at work within the hospital and in the field. For more information and to view photographs visit the Doctors and Nurses at War page.
Col David Vassallo L/RAMC has written a three part history of Camp Bastion Hospital for the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps and has kindly shared part one in this pdf link. All three parts are on the JRAMC website along with more of his articles. David is an Army Medical Services historian who has also written A History of The Princess Mary's Hospital Royal Air Force Akrotiri 1963-2013, Who Was Sapper Brown? Remembering British Military Burials in Cyprus and a history of the AMS in the First World War, which are available from the AMS Museum. He is now writing up an official history of the HERRICK campaign for the Army Medical Services which includes personal accounts, as well as histories of the Medical Regiments and Field Hospitals of the AMS. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org to buy his books directly or if you have any personal stories from operational deployments that you would like to share, or if you would like to contribute to these histories.
I have published a book which tells the story of The Grey Lady Ghost of the Cambridge Military Hospital which reveals her origins in the QAIMNS and where she meets a QA veteran of Afghanistan. She still walks her wards and tells her story by taking Scott Grey, a QARANC nurse, to the battlefields of World War One and beyond. This is the first in the series of Grey and Scarlet Novels by CG Buswell. Read the first chapter for free.
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Though other units in Helmand Province remained in tents the MTF saw a solid building constructed and then extended their capabilities. This included two general wards, several private rooms, a six bed intensive treatment unit (ITU), CT scanner, X-Ray machines (which includes the latest mobile digital dragon X-Ray machine), pharmacy, pathology laboratory, operating room with two modern operation tables and temperature controls to ensure the comfort of patients and staff from the extreme heat and cold weather conditions of Helmand territory and offered more protection from the Afghan dust. By February 08 the bed state capacity at the hospital squadron was 37 patients. The injured, wounded and sick soldiers of Operation Herrick IV (16 Air Assault Brigade) were cared for by 86 tri service staff. This also included primary health care from a general practice surgery, two dental surgeries, a welfare department, a mental healthcare team and a dedicated Hospital Chaplain. In time there was also a physiotherapy treatment department.
When the Medical Treatment Facility building opened in 2008 the Officer Commanding of the Hospital Squadron was Lt Col Paul Wallbridge. Injuries treated by his team have included burns, ballistic trauma injuries, trauma injuries, mine strikes, blast, fragmentation or gunshot wounds. Being so near the front line the medics and nurses performed immediate surgery and treatment which saved limbs and lives. Once stabilised patients were then swiftly repatriated to the UK for further treatment and care.
Members of the regular QARANC worked alongside QA Territorial Army personnel.
The Camp Bastion Field Hospital and Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) in Helmand Territory was built by G3 Systems to a modular design construction from a containerised structure. This bespoke design met the specific requirements of military casualties and patients.
There have been many advances and innovations in medical and nursing techniques and treatments since the British Army deployed to Afghanistan and the development of Camp Bastion Hospital. Some of these new treatments for trauma victims were demonstrated to journalist and broadcaster Michael Mosley in the BBC2 programme Frontline Medicine where he learnt that 90% of warfare victims are now expected to survive their injuries. This is in part due to the blood clotting additive to plasma which are administered with platelets and red blood cell transfusions which are given in equal volume to enable the casualty's own clotting to work more effectively, the practice of giving each casualty a full body scan, the use of portable ultrasound and the benefits of the new military tourniquets that can be applied by medics using just one hand.
Michael Mosley was demonstrated these modern frontline medicine techniques by the Camp Bastion Emergency Consultant who also talked about the dedicated radiologist who can give immediate expertise to the medical and nursing team in casualty and intensive care at Camp Bastion. The staff spoke about how the NHS is starting to use many of the techniques and equipment used by the DMS (Defence Medical Services).
The emergency treatment of a double amputee by IED (improvised explosive device) was shown and demonstrated the efficiency of various surgeons operating at the same time which include an orthopaedic surgeon, plastic surgeon and trauma surgeon.
The effects of an Op Minimise was filmed when a fatality was reported and Camp Bastion communications to the UK was interrupted until the relatives of the deceased soldier were informed.
Whilst the National Health Service have the Golden Hour, viewers of Frontline Medicine were informed about the Platinum Ten Minutes rule which has helped to save many soldier’s lives. This Platinum Ten Minutes is thanks largely due to the new tourniquet that medics and soldiers are trained to apply immediately after a limb injury and the work of the MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team) of a dedicated Chinook helicopter fitted out with the latest trauma equipment and staffed by a doctor, nurse and two paramedics.
New pain relief techniques used by the doctors and nurses at Camp Bastion Hospital include the continuous nerve block which provide pain relief using local anaesthetic nerve blocks using fine catheters rather than systemic morphine injections. Michael Mosley was able to talk to recovering US soldier who had stepped on an IED and sustained damage to his foot. The soldier reported that he felt no pain and Michael Mosley gave the figure that the military doctors have been able to control pain in up to 90% of their patients.
Frontline Medicine was first broadcast by the BBC on Sunday 20 November 2011 with the second part on Sunday 27 November 2011.
For Care and Duty
For Care and Duty was a Reporting Scotland special by Jackie Bird for BBC1 in February 2010. She reported on the roles of the nursing and medical staff at the A&E Department of Camp Bastion Field Hospital in Afghanistan Helmand Province. This included the staff of Scottish Territorial Army 205 Field Hospital whose bases are in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. For Care and Duty also looked at the work of MERT (the Medical Emergency Response Team), the TRIM trauma risk management unit Mental Health Unit based at Camp Bastion and the psychiatric nurses of the Field Mental Health Team who deploy to Forward Operating Base areas to treat troops.
Forward operating bases such as FOB Wishtan were visited where Jackie Bird interviewed a Combat Medical Technician (CMT), members of the Scottish infantry (the Jocks of the Highland Regiment) and talked about the roles of the combat medics.
Jackie Bird kept a web blog for the BBC and talks about the chill of hearing an Op Minimise announcement. Operation Minimise informs the troops that communications with the outside are being stopped whilst a helicopter brings in battle casualties. This prevents the next of kin learning about their loved ones from sources other than military officials.
If you would like to contribute any info, photographs or share your memories of Afghanistan then please contact me.
SSVC Welfare Fund
Christmas 2011 at Camp Bastion Field Hospital demonstrated the important work of the SSVC Welfare Fund that helps to deliver welfare and morale boosting care to injured servicemen and women. Examples of the work of the SSVC Welfare Fund that helps distract patients include quizzes, bingo and film nights: all of which helps the time go a little quicker.
The SSVC Welfare Fund also provides a little extra Christmas cheer and recently they funded a PA kit for the Hospital, vital for those quiz nights and bingo sessions. BFBS presenters Andy Astbury and Mark Humphries took the PA Kit to the hospital and presented it to the CO, Col Peter Jackson on Boxing Day.
The photos above shows Santa and his helper delivering the PA kit TO Camp Bastion Field Hospital staff. From left to right are Mark Humphries, Capt Tim Mallet, Col Peter Jackson and Andy Astbury
The Services Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC) is the Forces charity which brings you BFBS Radio and TV; live shows from CSE Forces Entertainment; SSVC Forces Cinemas; the British Defence Film Library; and SSVC shops.
In the past the SSVC Welfare Fund has provided the Camp Bastion Field Hospital with 40 portable DVD players and 50 top DVD films so that every individual bed space in the hospital ward has its own device, enabling our injured men and women to watch films without leaving their beds.
Captain Tim Mallet from the Camp Bastion Field Hospital said:
Welfare is a key component that the Command chain take very seriously and anything we can do to make this more effective is really important and the provision of this PA system will enhance our events. From the UK Med Group we’re really really thankful to the SSVC Welfare Fund for providing this PA to us.
Commanding Officer Colonel Peter Jackson was also grateful saying:
Things like this bring a bit of normality into the operational theatre, making a big contrast to what the Med Group is doing either on the ground or in the hospital. To be able to take time out and come and do something that is just reasonable is awesomely good and for SSVC/BFBS to take the trouble to organise this, we are very grateful indeed.
The SSVC Welfare Fund donates around a quarter of a million pounds each year to substantiated requests from Units and service personnel worldwide. The Welfare Fund is another link in the vital SSVC chain whose sole aim is to provide support and welfare for our Armed Forces wherever they are and whatever they are doing around the world. Find out more at
BFBS Afghanistan was launched in October 2009. The first DJ on air was the radio station manager Dusty Miller who opened with the words Good Morning Afghanistan. British Forces Broadcasting Service broadcasts from Camp Bastion throughout Afghanistan and the Middle East and can be heard by families on DAB digital Radio. The first song played on BFBS Afghanistan was Wake Up Boo! by The Boo Radleys. Read more about BFBS Afghanistan at www.bfbs-radio.com
Boost for the Boys Campaign
The Boost for the Boys Campaign is a joint collaboration between BFBS and The Sun newspaper and is a new way of keeping families in touch using the Boost for the Boys webpage at
Website visitors can record and upload messages for family and friends wherever they are in the forces world, including Afghanistan. The service is free and simple to use.
For iPhone users, leaving an audio message is even easier thanks to the new BFBS app, which can be downloaded from the iTunes store for free.
All of the recorded messages are then played on BFBS Radio to forces listeners around the world, and in the UK on DAB Digital Radio. The messages are also uploaded onto the Boost for the Boys webpage on Audioboo, meaning you can listen again to your message if you miss it on BFBS.
Ernie Rowe, Head of BFBS Radio UK, said:
Our service keeps the Forces connected every day but there's no substitute for hearing the voices of your loved ones when you're thousands of miles apart. You can't overestimate the positive effect on morale that these Boost for the Boys messages will have and we are delighted to be teaming up with The Sun and Audioboo to give a lift to our dedicated servicemen and women.
Boost for the Boys was launched in The Sun Online. Bella Battle, Deputy Features Editor for The Sun online said:
We are proud to lend our support to this great initiative. As the Forces newspaper, we hear regularly from readers serving overseas who tell us how important reminders of home are. As such, we are delighted that BFBS and Audioboo are now helping these same brave servicemen and women stay in touch with their loved ones through audio messages of support.
Mark Rock, founder and CEO at Audioboo, said of the new initiative:
Audioboo is a platform that enables the spoken word to be captured, shared and saved. To connect people across the world through the power of speech. We couldn't think of a better use of it than to allow forces personnel in far off, often dangerous, places to hear from their loved ones through the emotive power of voice.
BFBS is available on DAB Digital Radio in the UK, on FM across the Forces world, on Sky Guide 0211, Freesat Channel 786, www.bfbs.com and via the BFBS smartphone app.
Forces War Records
Forces War Records are a genealogy site where you can find military records of over 6 million British Armed Forces personnel cross matched with over 4000 Regiments, Bases and Ships. This link includes a free search and a special discount of 40% off membership offer for visitors who use the discount code AF40 if they decide to become a member.
Search Now. A unique feature is their WW1 Soldiers Medical Records section.
If you would like to contribute to this page, suggest changes or inclusions to this website or would like to send me a photograph then please e-mail me.
Official QARANC webpage.
QA Association website.
In The Company of Nurses Book.
The Grey Lady Ghost of the Cambridge Military Hospital Novel - a Book by CG Buswell
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