NHS England, the Ministry of Defence and Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group have agreed to set up a steering group which will take over responsibility for providing Ben’s care, with an assessment of his needs to be completed in the near future.
The parties have confirmed that an offer for an interim package of support will be made shortly, so that Ben will not need to wait for the outcome of the assessment process for his urgent care needs to be addressed.
It comes after specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, which has been working with Ben since he was injured while serving in Afghanistan in 2006, identified gaps in the Lance Bombardier’s care which had arisen because of a lack of funding and coordination between the organisations.
The decision to form the steering group was agreed at a meeting between NHS England, the MoD, Doncaster CCG, Ben, his mother Diane Dernie and step-father, and Ben’s legal team at Irwin Mitchell.
Alice Cullingworth, Ben’s solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, said: “We were assured at the meeting that all the officers and clinicians involved in this case genuinely want to resolve the issues with Ben’s care.
“The formation of the steering group marks a milestone in ensuring Ben receives the level of care he deserves. There is still some way to go but we are pleased with the progress that has been made.
“We will continue to work with everyone involved to resolve the issues that have been identified. We hope that the parties’ offer for interim support will be sufficient so that an application to court will no longer be necessary.”
The MoD has confirmed that it is responsible for commissioning primary care for Ben, who was awarded the MBE for services to charity. NHS England has agreed that it is responsible for commissioning community and secondary care for him.
Ben is currently waiting for an iPad and broken gym equipment to be replaced, which is critical for his rehabilitation. There is also not enough funding to pay his carers the minimum wage during night hours, to provide respite for his family, and to take Ben swimming and to other much-needed rehabilitation treatments.
It was also agreed at last week’s meeting that Doncaster Council will be invited to join the steering group. The local authority will be asked to conduct a carers’ assessment for Diane and husband Andy.
The ongoing assessment of Ben’s needs will be discussed at the group’s first scheduled meeting later this month. The group will then hold regular meetings to review Ben’s care.
The MoD has confirmed that the Ben will be a part of the “proof of concept phase” of a new scheme called IPC4V, which stands for “Integrated personal Commissioning for Veterans”. This is described by the MoD has a scheme “intended to provide enhanced integration and co-ordination across all of the bodies involved in supporting highly dependent veterans, ensuring the best care available nationally…”.
Ben and his family have been waiting to join the IPC4V since it was announced by the Minister for Veterans, Mark Lancaster, in January 2016.
The MoD confirmed that the steering group will transition into the IPC4V. It is hoped that the IPC4V model will ensure Ben continues to receive the care he needs before and following his eventual discharge from The Army.
Diane said: “We have been extremely frustrated that our requests for answers about who is responsible for providing certain elements of Ben’s care seemed to have been ignored previously.
“Ben is eager for this confusion to be cleared up as soon as possible so he can concentrate on his ongoing rehabilitation and not have to worry about which organisation should be providing what.
“We are hopeful that the decision to form a steering group and then transition into the IPC4V will see progress made in Ben’s case. We now urge the MoD, NHS England and Doncaster CCG to ensure they deliver on their promise and provide Ben with the care he deserves and needs. We are particularly anxious to ensure that the offer of interim support by the parties will be sufficient to address Ben’s urgent care needs as soon as possible.”
Ben. who lost both his legs in a blast in Afghanistan 11 years ago, suffered more than 40 injuries and was not expected to survive when his vehicle detonated a landmine.
He was awarded the MBE for his charity work by the Prince of Wales at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2013 and also carried the 2012 Olympic flame through Doncaster flanked by hundreds of people as he walked on prosthetic legs for nearly half an hour with an assistant.
As well as brain damage that affected his memory and speech, he broke his pelvis, and his back in four places, shattered his arm and chest.