Airman 'moved from A&E waiting room because uniform might cause upset'


An injured RAF sergeant was moved out of a hospital waiting room because staff thought his uniform would "upset" other patients, it has been reported.

Aircraft engineer Mark Prendeville, 38, was taken to Accident and Emergency at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, after chemicals from a fire extinguisher got in to his eyes during a training exercise.

The sergeant, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was taken to an empty corner of the waiting room before being moved behind a corner by hospital staff, The Sun said.

His family was allegedly told by hospital workers that "they didn't want to upset people" and "have lots of different cultures coming in".

A number of veterans and military figures have spoken out against Sgt Prendeville's treatment.

Former chief of the air staff Sir Michael Graydon described the incident as "disappointing", telling The Sun: "I would have thought, regardless of whether he had his uniform on or not, it was more important to deal with the situation, which was the chap had something very unpleasant happen to him, and he should be dealt with immediately.

"Moving him to other rooms in the danger of offending people strikes me of getting the priorities absolutely wrong."

Former RAF navigator Flt Lt John Nichol said he was "appalled", and told the newspaper: "This is horrifying, you should be treated differently for wearing a uniform, you should be lorded because you're wearing uniform, you should be celebrated for wearing uniform."

A spokesman for East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust apologised to Sgt Prendeville for "any embarrassment".

"A member of the armed forces in uniform attended our A&E and was asked by a member of staff if he wanted to sit inside the department rather than the waiting room," he told The Sun.

"This employee was acting in good faith because previously, there had been an altercation between a member of the public and a different member of the armed forces in uniform."

Sgt Prendeville was training at RAF Manston, Kent, when the accident happened on Wednesday and he was rushed to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital.