Injured sapper to return home after care row

A YOUNG Suffolk soldier who lost both legs in a bomb attack in Afghanistan will return home this week - despite a row over which authority will pay for his care being unresolved.

The father of Sapper Ashley Hall spoke of his relief yesterday that his son would be back home soon, but said a wrangle over his long-term care was still ongoing.

Ashley, 20, lost both his legs and suffered other serious injuries in Afghanistan in July and has spent nearly two months in a Birmingham hospital.

His family live in Stratford St Mary, Suffolk, but he is registered with a GP surgery in Ardleigh, Essex, leading to a row over who should pay for his care now he is ready to come home.

His father Stephen has been wrangling with councils and health trusts in both counties for the past ten days but thanks to the commitment of occupational health experts the stalemate looks to have been resolved - for now.

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Mr Hall said he was very pleased that his son would be coming home this week, hopefully on Thursday, and that the occupational health team at Colchester General Hospital had sorted out all the necessary equipment to make his transition as smooth as possible.

After a ten-day spell at home he will then head to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headly Court in Surrey for up to a year of physio and rehab work.

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Mr Hall said: “One of the guys from the occupational health has ordered the equipment that we need, it should turn up tomorrow.

“He turned round and said ‘let them argue about who’s paying for it at a later date’ and just sorted it out for us.

“Ash has spent the past two months in Birmingham and has the chance of coming home, even for only ten days, before he goes off again - so we want him back at home as soon as possible.”

Although Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust is providing the short-term care for Sapper Hall as he returns home to be reunited with his friends and family, including three younger brothers and his girlfriend Jade, the provider of his long-term care is still undecided.

His family are currently living in rented accommodation and it is also a possibility that he will stay in the army, which could mean he would be given an adapted home when he eventually leaves Headly Court.

But any permanent changes to a home in East Anglia would have to be paid for by social services of either Suffolk or Essex County Council or Babergh District Council.

Mr Hall added: “There’s lots of decisions to be made - it depends if he decides whether to say in the army or not, obviously it would be their responsibility to give him army quarters.

“It’s the transitional part, that’s the problem. All I know is I have spoken to people in occupational health at Babergh and they are trying to liaise with Suffolk and Essex (county councils) but neither have said it’s their responsibility.”

Last night Essex County, Suffolk County or Babergh District Councils were unavailable for comment.

Mr Hall said that his son was determined not to let the injuries he had suffered hold him back and he had recently pledged to compete in the 2012 Paralympics once he has undergone a period of rehabilitation.

And to celebrate the return to Suffolk of Sapper Hall, his local pub are holding a special homecoming day this weekend.

On Sunday the Swan public house in Lower Street, Stratford St Mary, will host the event from 4.30pm to 11.30pm. There will be a barbecue, live music and charity raffle and the day has been arranged with the help of the Invicta Foundation.

A fun day has also been arranged at Sapper Hall’s old school, St Benedict’s College, Colchester, on September 12 and for more details search for The Invicta Foundation on Facebook.

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