A major investigation into the care of Britain’s amputee war veterans has called for a radical re-structuring of health services.

Service veterans who have suffered terrible injuries while on duty are experiencing variable standards of care which are hampering recoveries and adding a needless burden on the NHS. 

The White Report - the most detailed study of how the nation’s 160 operationally most complex wounded men are treated - found failings across the NHS and called for a fresh approach to their care.

The report was commissioned by the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund (RMCTF) alongside Blesma, the limbless veterans’ charity, and compiled by former Royal Marines Captain Jon White, who was injured by an IED while serving on Operation HERRICK 12 in Afghanistan in 2010. He lost both legs above the knee and his right arm at his elbow, and has benefitted from prosthetics fitted in the United States funded by RMCTF.

He interviewed fellow veterans, clinicians and administrators to discover patchy provision of medical facilities and support networks.

Daily frustration, delay and complications

“These are young, fit, determined former forces personnel with huge potential for society yet they can experience daily frustration, delay and complications on a needlessly lengthy medical journey,” White said. “The aim of the report is to help the government create the conditions to allow the potential of our injured service personnel to shine.”

It signposts the route to better, more lasting therapy, freedom of choice and can even save funds for the NHS and the country, he added.

Establishing the recommendations of the Murrison Report published in 2011, which led to nine regional centres of excellence for prosthetic services funded by a £6.7 million government grant helped, but White believes combining their services with the expertise offered by the Hanger company in Oklahoma, US, can elevate results and make the UK a world leader in prosthetic care.

“My recommendations will help veterans return to independence as wage earners, tax payers and to raise families, released from the psychological and physical burden of sub-optimal care,” added White.

Report confirms "harsh truths" about care

Jonathan Ball, Chief Executive of RMCTF, which has funded a number of trans-femoral amputees for prosthetic treatment in the US over the past 2 years at a cost of over £90,000 each, said: “Jon White embodies the Royal Marines Commando mindset – first to understand, first to adapt and respond; and the first to overcome. 

He continued: “Not only has he overcome his own injuries and become a father and professional project manager, but he has drawn on his skills as a Royal Marines officer to produce his report on behalf of his comrades. He is determined that their service given freely and at such a cost be appropriately recognised by the nation in the care given to them.”

Barry Le Grys, Chief Executive of Blesma, which has been instrumental in the welfare of amputee veterans for a century, added: “Jon White is uniquely placed to examine and assess services. His report is deeply significant and deserves thorough attention so we properly support people who have sacrificed so much for their country.

“We have been concerned for some time that NHS services were patchy and that veterans had, at times, a tough job navigating their way through the system with the delays and frustrations adding to the difficult physical and psychological task of rehabilitation.

“This is the first report of its kind because it gets to the root of the problems and tells some harsh truths about how we are dealing with veterans. There is much that is good in the NHS but improvements can be made and The White Report shows how we can develop a treatment programme that is fit for veterans and civilians alike.”

The White Report, has been delivered to government and health service chiefs.