Hospital Told Injured RAF Sergeant To Sit Behind Wall Because Uniform ‘Offends Other Cultures’

British Armed Forces
Lefteris Pitarakis/WPA Pool /Getty

A hospital has apologised after an injured Royal Air Force sergeant was moved out of a waiting room because staff thought his uniform would “upset” other patients. His family was allegedly told it was because they “have lots of different cultures coming in.”

Reports suggest the Mark Prendeville, 38, was asked to sit behind a wall. His farther, Jim, told BBC News 24 that he was “dumfounded.” He said: “I’ve spoken to his wife, he was absolutely disgusted.”

Sergeant Prendeville was attending the Accident and Emergency department 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.

Jim told Radio 5 Live: “Mark was moved because of his uniform – he was told that twice. Mark was quite annoyed, but he’s a quiet lad and didn’t want to cause a fuss.”

Adding: “He didn’t care about the burns, he felt worse about how he was treated. I was absolutely disgusted when I heard. I don’t know what is so offensive about a uniform.”

Veterans and military figures last night slammed the hospital’s treatment of the serviceman, who has been to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sir Michael Graydon, former Chief of the Air Staff, described the incident at the as “disappointing.” He said:

“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.”

A spokesman for East Kent University Hospitals NHS Trust apologised to Sergeant Prendeville for “any embarrassment.”

He said in a statement: “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.

“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.

She said the hospital trust would be “absolutely clear that members of Her Majesty’s armed forces, whether in uniform or not, should not be treated any differently to any other person,” adding: “We are now making this point clear to all our members of staff and will seek to make sure that this never happens again.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.