Pioneering new facilities to give home for brave

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ARMED Forces’ families in Yorkshire will be able to live near loved ones who have been critically injured in combat following the launch of a new “home for the brave” which is set to open at one of the country’s leading military hospitals.

Pioneering new facilities are being developed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, which will provide free accommodation for the relatives of military patients, as well as offering a space for recovering soldiers to relax.

Each month soldiers from across Yorkshire are flown back from battlefields for treatment at the new hospital, which moved from Selly Oak Hospital in 2010.

Naval Chief Petty Officer Joanne Baxter, a biomedical scientist at the hospital, from Castleford, West Yorkshire, said the new facility is vital for soldiers and their families.

“It will be important to the families of injured service personnel from Yorkshire as it will for the rest of the UK,” she said.

“If someone is very seriously injured they don’t want to make one visit, they will want to stay for the duration of the most critical part of their stay so obviously it provides this facility for them.”

Officer Baxter, who has previously worked at the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit at Northallerton’s Friarage Hospital, deals mainly with major blood transfusions, which help keep critically injured soldiers alive. She is one of 370 service personnel working at Queen Elizabeth.

Regularly flying out to Afghanistan to treat troops, she has witnessed first hand how vital it is for patients to receive family support.

She said: “The most important difference is probably for the families of the more critically injured patients when they initially arrive back here because their families don’t want to have to travel long distances. They want to be here during the time a critically injured patient is receiving treatment.

“The new facilities will provide accommodation for them to stay without any disturbance or excessive costs to the family.

“I think it will relieve a lot of pressure and worry from families at a time when a loved one is very ill. When you are worried if they are going to survive or not the last thing people want to worry about is whether they can afford to stay nearby.”

Developed by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity, the centre will be run and funded by military charities, including the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help.

It will be built near the hospital’s Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and will include areas for patients to receive visitors, including comrades from their own units, as well as other military personnel.

Recreation rooms will enable patients to leave the ward and relax with their families and fellow soldiers in a home-from-home environment, kitted out with DVD players, PCs, Wi-Fi, pool tables and TVs.

The hospital charity, which has dubbed the centre a “home for the brave”, will officially launch the project at a reception at the House of Commons on January 27.

Meanwhile it has launched an appeal to raise funds, which will go towards the running of the centre, as well as equipment for the new rooms.

The Yorkshire Post’s Christmas appeal was launched last month in aid of ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity. The organisation is battling to care for soldiers and their families at a time of unprecedented need.

Bidding in the Yorkshire Post Christmas charity auction came to an end on Friday following an incredible response from readers, and the total raised will be revealed in Saturday’s paper.

ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity was founded in 1944 as the Army Benevolent Fund to cope with the enormous strain following the end of the Second World War and need for a charity to give practical help to our soldiers and veterans.