NHS backs down to fund surgery to help double amputee soldier walk again

Jay Baldwin, who lost his legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan
Jay Baldwin lost both his legs in a bomb ambush in Afghanistan that nearly killed him - DAVID ROSE FOR THE TELEGRAPH

Health chiefs have agreed to fund an operation which will allow a British soldier who lost both legs fighting in Afghanistan to walk again.

Jay Baldwin, 38, a former Army sergeant, claimed last week he had been abandoned by the NHS after it refused to pay for a procedure called osseointegration to allow him to lead a relatively normal life.

But after The Telegraph revealed the former soldier’s treatment by the NHS, he was told his surgery will now be paid for by the Government.

Mr Baldwin said: “I’m absolutely delighted that I’m finally going to get the operation I need. I’d like to thank The Telegraph for highlighting my situation. I’d also like to thank the hundreds of readers who left supportive comments on the article.

“Whilst I’m happy that I’m going to get my operation, I am staggered by the fact that wounded veterans have to go to these lengths to get the treatment we deserve.

Jay Baldwin as a young soldier on active service
Jay Baldwin as a young soldier on active service

“I, like thousands of other soldiers, fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the belief that if I was wounded I would be looked after.

“Well, I lived up to my side of that bargain. Now the Government needs to do the same. Not just for me, but for all wounded veterans.”

Mr Baldwin, a father of three, almost died when he stood on an improvised explosive device in Helmand in Jan 2012. He had already completed two tours of Iraq and one in Afghanistan when he was wounded on his second deployment.

After numerous operations and months of rehabilitation, he underwent revolutionary implant surgery in Australia that allowed him to walk again.

Mr Baldwin, who also has three stepchildren, now needs to have the operation again to enable him to lead a normal life without the use of a wheelchair.

Warned of years-long wait

Until last week, he had been told by the NHS that he might have to wait years before he will get the surgery that will allow him to walk again.

In 2015, the procedure was only available in Australia and the £110,000 cost of the operation was paid for by his former regiment. But in 2019 he developed lymphoma and had to undergo chemotherapy.

While he was receiving treatment, he developed a serious infection and he faced losing the remainder of his leg and potentially his life.

It meant he needed a repeat of the operation to enable him to use prosthetics again, but the NHS refused to fund it.

However, last week Mr Baldwin received a letter from Maria Caulfield, the health minister, saying that was no longer the case.

In the letter, the minister said: “I recognise the sacrifice you have made in defending your country and the personal challenges you have and continue to experience as a result of your injuries incurred in service.

“I hope this letter gives you confidence that NHS England will look after you.”