Hospital officials are getting a dose of public outrage in Britain because staff members treating a war veteran for injuries he received in a training exercise asked the airman to move — twice — to avoid having patients from “other cultures” be offended by his uniform.
Any guesses as to what those “other cultures” were?
The incident took place in a British hospital in Kent, England, and involved a Royal Air Force sergeant named Mark Prendville, according to The Telegraph.
The paper reported:
Sgt Prendeville was taken to the Accident and Emergency unit of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent after chemicals from a fire extinguisher got in to his eyes during a training exercise at RAF Manston.
According to his father, the 38-year-old, who has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia, was “dumbfounded” to be told on two different occasions to stand out of the view of other patients. He was wearing a camouflage combat uniform.
Jim Prendeville, 63, who is also a veteran, was understandably “disgusted” over his son’s treatment by hospital staff.
“One of the staff asked him if he would stand around the corner so he wouldn’t be seen by other people in case it may upset them because he was in uniform,” he told The Telegraph.
“He went round the corner not to make a fuss but then another member of staff asked him to move again in case anyone saw him because he was in uniform.”
At that point the younger Prendeville voiced a mild objection.
“He said ‘why should I move,’ and they said because your uniform might upset people, we have all kinds of different cultures coming in and you might upset them.”
The elder Prendeville said he would expect military personnel to be treated like anyone else by hospital staff.
“In fact I think they should get priority treatment,” he added.
“The way they treat our servicemen – they’re willing to put their lives on the line and they’re treated like lepers when they go to A&E.”
A spokesman for East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust issued a statement on the incident:
“A member of the armed forces in uniform attended our A&E and was asked by a member of staff if he wanted to sit inside the department rather than the waiting room.
“This employee was acting in good faith because previously, there had been an altercation between a member of the public and a different member of the armed forces in uniform.”
The hospital trust is “absolutely clear that members of Her Majesty’s armed forces, whether in uniform or not, should not be treated any differently to any other person,” the spokesman added.
“We are now making this point clear to all our members of staff and will seek to make sure that this never happens again.”
Conservative MP for Mid Sussex Nicholas Soames tweeted the story, and drew a lot of angry response:
Appalling behaviour by a Kent hospital in seperating injured serving Sgt in RAF from other patients in case of causing offence PATHETIC
— Nicholas Soames (@nsoamesmp) September 26, 2015
Political journalist Iain Martin’s tweet of the incident also drew heavy response:
— Iain Martin (@iainmartin1) September 26, 2015
— Pam (@2053pam) September 26, 2015
Two years ago, two Muslim men using knives attacked and murdered British soldier Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. The attack happened in broad daylight in southeast London.
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