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Fighting force

Physiotherapists in the armed forces are moving closer to the front lines of conflict, Liz Hall, a major in the Territorial Army, told conference.

She talked about job opportunities with the armed forces and described how military medical care was changing.

Traditionally, field hospitals were '200-bedded beasts' housing around 800 medical staff in positions some way back from the front, she said.

Now, physios could find themselves attached to mobile teams in 25 to 50-bed units 'dotted about the battlefield'.

'We have to be flexible enough to move to the soldiers,' she said.

A qualified MS physio since 1983, Liz Hall is a specialist practitioner in musculoskeletal care. She has worked in the NHS and spent 11 years with the TA.

Physios are employed by the Army to work across all three armed services. They can be regulars, serve with the TA or in civilian posts.

Ms Hall said: 'Military therapists have to be both soldiers and healthcare professionals. Our aim is to get soldiers back fighting fit to their commanders as soon as possible.'

As well as deployment in war zones and as peace-keepers, physios are also based in settings such as training and rehabilitation units.

Slides depicted her varied experience – from desert training in Oman to peace-keeping missions in the Balkans.

'Where there's conflict you need multiple skills, you have to be able to think on your feet,' she said. Asked about the dangers, she said: 'There's always a slight risk if you join the military that something might happen.'

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