Wounded troops' delay

A senior Army surgeon warned that British troops injured in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan faced delays of up to seven hours before reaching a field hospital, it was reported yesterday.

A senior Army surgeon warned that British troops injured in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan faced delays of up to seven hours before reaching a field hospital, it was reported yesterday.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul Parker said US troops fighting in Vietnam 40 years ago were evacuated more quickly than British soldiers today.

He blamed the lack of dedicated helicopter ambulances and "too many layers of command" for delays which meant that it could take injured troops several hours to travel just a few miles to a field hospital.

His comments came as a soldier who died in a road accident in southern Iraq was named as Lance Corporal James Cartwright, 21, a single man from London.

The MoD said that there were sufficient helicopters to evacuate casualties.

In his article, Colonel Parker wrote: "In Vietnam, wounded soldiers arrived in hospital within 25 minutes. In Iraq in 2005 that figure is 110 minutes. On Operation Herrick IV (Afghanistan 2006) the average pre-hospital time was seven hours.

"We still do not have a dedicated all-weather military helicopter evacuation fleet."

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