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Lack of doctors for troops in Afghanistan

TT/David Landes · 18 Nov 2009, 08:29

Published: 18 Nov 2009 08:29 GMT+01:00

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Currently, Swedish forces in Afghanistan lack an anaesthetist and a surgeon because of difficulties in recruiting qualified personnel.

As a result, the unit within the medical platoon which is supposed to follow soldiers during risky missions doesn’t have access to the competence needed in the field, said Tomas Arvidsson, the senior medical officer for Sweden’s Afghanistan force, speaking to Sveriges Radio.

“I’m very concerned about the situation,” he told the radio station.

In theory, the troops are to have access to two forward surgical teams which can be put in place quickly if a soldier is seriously injured, according to Arvidsson,

In practice, however, there has never been more than one such team. And the existing forward surgical team lacks both an anaesthetist and a surgeon, positions which have been vacant for some time.

Lieutenant General Anders Lindström, head of the Armed Forces operations forces, told Sveriges Radio that he’s aware of the problem and that measures are being taken to fill the vacancies.

Story continues below…

He didn’t wish to comment specifically on how the vacancies may have affected the handling of the soldiers who were injured last week when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:18 November 18, 2009 by Nemesis
I understand the difficulty in filling the posts.

However filling these posts needs to be a national priority. Sending troops to a war zone without adequate medical support is crazy.

It begs the question, are the troops missing anything else.
09:20 November 18, 2009 by tigger007
these services you must have if your troops will be fighting on the frontline or patrolling areas. a fast rapid medical response team can determine the life or death of troops in the field. in this area vacancies are hard to feel,because of the anesthesiologist and surgeons feel that the pay isn't good enough or the lack call to duty.
10:52 November 18, 2009 by determined
Choclate cream soldiers.
14:08 November 18, 2009 by Osokin
Bring back the soldiers, problem solved.
18:20 November 18, 2009 by GefleFrequentFlyer
You can hardly call yourself an army if you don't have all the elements that make up a modern force.

Might as well bring them home if they are just going to field piecemeal portions.

The real story is that there is NOBODY in the Swedish military available for such a crucial role. Sad, really.
20:11 November 18, 2009 by efm
Send the injured to a nearby US military medical facility.

I'll bet they have a surgeon and anesthetist on board.
22:13 November 18, 2009 by Scottish Boy
It's quite shocking that Sweden is unable to provide adequate medical cover for forward deployed troops, especially as they only have very limited troop numbers deployed overseas. Especially shocking as Sweden is the lead country in the EU Nordic Battlegroup, what would happen if the battlegroup was actually deployed somewhere troublesome, you think they would have more robust plans in place to guarantee medical support for a much smaller number of troops.

Shortages of military medical staff is a worldwide problem, having served in the Royal Army Medical Corp and later as a civilian nurse working in ICU in a British military hospital I completely understand this but UK forces have excellent in theatre medical care (great staff and all the latest equipment) as they can easily call up reservists with specialist skills to supplement the regular forces.

Sweden has the Home Guard but maybe they need to concentrate on a more specialist reserve component like that found in other militaries. From what I've observed and read on the Swedish military they are completely unprepared to meet any military threat to Sweden so the current situation is unsuprising. Why does Sweden not have a reserve army field hospital unit, the UK has lots of them.

In response to Efm I don't think that's a satisfactory solution, critical injury requires prompt medical attention and taking time to fly someone to a coalition medical centre isn't the answer. When your out there on the ground as an infantry soldier (I was infantry before I became a medic) it's a real morale booster knowing that if your injured your within easy reach of a good surgical team.
03:31 November 19, 2009 by Davey-jo
I have a vague recollection of Sweden being a neutral country. What are it's troops doing in a war zone? Whose side are they on?

Also how were you conned into this stupid campaign in the first place? I thought it was GW's holy crusade with Blair as his Richard Cur de Lier following behind. Sweden has more sense than to get involved , no? Ah well ...
19:18 November 19, 2009 by Kevtravels
Afghanistan needs to be the no1 international mission for all of NATO/EU. The NATO mission in Kosovo is winding down and becoming more of a civilian run/police training mission. Several EU missions in Congo and Chad have merit but Afghanistan is of the upmost priority.

Surely Sweden could add another hundred troops-combat and support and spend millions more in their sector. It would be of a better upmost focus in my opinion. I don't expect Sweden to send hundreds into battle with the Taliban, but surely enough to protect their troops/reconstruction and patrol.
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