RAF veteran who’s waited years for surgical procedure offers stark message to Tories

An RAF veteran forced to wait for life changing surgery for over three years after being injured on duty says the Tories must be stopped.

Stephen Tyrrell, 65, told The Mirror he’s forced to wear a morphine patch to cope with the excruciating pain he endures. But despite being told by two consultants since December 2020 that he needs surgery on his spine, he’s still no closer to getting the treatment he requires.

He told a Labour rally in Worcester that Rishi Sunak’s government can’t be trusted with the NHS as Keir Starmer warned of the dangers of giving the Conservatives another five years. Mr Tyrrell, from Lincoln, voiced his frustration, telling The Mirror: “They told me they’d look after me when I was injured.”

The former serviceman, who suffered the serious spinal injury through no fault of his own in 1989, said that he’s been forced to rely on charity the RAF Benevolence Fund for help as his condition worsened. Mr Tyrell, who left the RAF as a result of his injury in 1992, said: “There are a lot of people much worse than me who lost arms and legs.

Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting have vowed to tackle the NHS backlog

Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting have vowed to tackle the NHS backlog

“We’re not after charity, we’re just after what we deserve, which is for veterans to be seen and treated.” Addressing Mr Starmer in front of Labour activists he said: “I’m here because I believe in the Labour Party and I believe that change is the only way that veterans like myself is going to get the proper treatment that we deserve.”

And Mr Tyrrell, who joined the RAF in 1976, told the rally: “I’m really sick of the promises that have been made to me as a veteran… We were promised that we would be looked after in this country, and as veterans, we would get priority treatment.

“And I’m not asking for more priority than anybody else, but that’s what I was told I would get. But unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out.”

After hearing Mr Tyrrell’s story, the Labour leader said: “Rishi Sunak goes around in a helicopter, he doesn’t see or understand the impact of what his government has done.” Labour has pledged to create more than 40,000 additional NHS appointments a week by stepping up out-of-hours clinics across the country.

Evening and weekend cover will be carried out by NHS staff doing paid overtime shifts. Addressing medical students at Worcester University, Mr Starmer urged them to be the generation that gets the NHS back on track.

He said: “We want you to join the workforce, and in five years time to say ‘we’re the generation that brought the NHS back’. It’s for us to create the conditions to make that happen.”

Describing the impact of the NHS backlog on staff, he described his wife Victoria’s position. “In the hospital where my wife works it’s bearing down (on staff), they can’t get on with the day job because of the backlog,” Mr Starmer said.

He went on to tell the audience about a paramedic friend who is growing frustrated about lengthy handover times, which stop him rushing to 999 calls. Mr Starmer said: “That stripped the heart out of what he’s doing.”

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said he’d been “bowled over” by the response from medics after pleas to help clear the “shocking” number of people waiting for treatment.. Labour has announced plans to send crack teams into hospitals to clear a backlog that currently stands at 7.5million.

Mr Starmer has pledged to ensure most patients start treatment within 18 weeks in England within five years. Labour plans to do this by bringing in more evening and weekend appointments and making better use of private capacity, while ensuring costs aren’t passed on to those being treated.

Unveiling a new campaign van carrying Labour’s key General Election pledges Mr Streeting said: “The choice facing the country on July 4 is a simple one. Do you give the matches back to the arsonists to finish the job, or do you vote for the party with the proudest record on the NHS? The party that created the NHS?”