Army Reserves provide relief at Camp Bastion Hospital

49 reservist medics from 243 Field Hospital are deploying to run the British 'Role 3' medical facility at the main base for UK military operations in Afghanistan.

243 Field Hospital is a fully functioning deployable hospital and has all the facilities you'd find in a civilian hospital in the UK, with an emergency department, operating theatres, wards, X-ray capability and pathology laboratories.

The Role 3 medical facility at Camp Bastion is often described as one of the busiest trauma units in the world; it's certainly one of the most advanced. And, uniquely, it's a consultant-led hospital, with each patient being cared for by more consultants than they would back in Britain. Of all the seriously injured personnel brought to the Role 3 hospital from the battlefield, 98 per cent of them will survive.

Improvements in battlefield medicine and equipment play a crucial part, but it's at the hospital in Camp Bastion where these patients' lives are saved by a team of dedicated medical professionals, some of them reservists like those from 243 Field Hospital.

But not all of the patients treated at the hospital in Camp Bastion have serious injuries from the battlefield. Many - around 40 per cent - need treatment for a host of non-battle-related illnesses and complaints, ranging from common infections and insect and animal bites to sports injuries.

Second-in-Command of 243 Field Hospital, Lieutenant Colonel Heather Saunders, a regional nurse advisor in the Army Primary Healthcare Service in her day job, said: "I feel privileged to have been able to work out there. We are there to serve a purpose for the troops that actually go and put their lives on the line and I think that's what makes it so worthwhile knowing that we're actually giving a first class service to the troops."

What's different about reservist medics is that they'll also bring back first-hand experience of groundbreaking medical procedures which will be used to treat people in their local communities back home in Britain. Most of the reservist medics from 243 Field Hospital will serve in Afghanistan for three months; however, some will serve for six months and some consultants will be in Afghanistan for around eight months.

Since 2003, more than 26,000 Army reservists have deployed on operations in support of their regular colleagues. Of that number, 21 have given their lives for their country. Earlier this summer some 550 Army reservists served in Afghanistan alongside the regulars.