DOCTORS and nurses from across Merseyside and Cheshire are to leave their posts at the region's hospitals to care for wounded soldiers in war-torn Afghanistan.
The 85 Territorial Army members have been called up to serve their country in a military hospital in the Helmand Province.
It will be the first time since World War II that 208 Field Hospital (Volunteers) has been mobilised for operational duty.
Yesterday, at a training exercise at the TA base in Childwall, in south Liverpool, the TAs said that, although they were nervous, they were looking forward to their three-month tour which begins in July.
In civilian life, Captain Lisa Tierney, of Wallasey, is the co-ordinator of clinical services at the Liverpool Royal and Broadgreen Hospital Trust.
When she arrives in Afghanistan, she will be ensuring that the 25-bed hospital on Camp Bastion, which boasts an intensive care unit, physiotherapy service and CT scanner, is up to scratch.
Capt Tierney, who will celebrate her 50th birthday the day before she deploys, said: “In Afghanistan there will be dust, scorpions and terrible heat, things you don’t have to worry about when you are working over here.”
This will be Captain Tierney’s second tour abroad.
She was deployed to Iraq at the beginning of the war with less than a fortnight’s notice and was part of a team of medics who built a military hospital in six days. “Because I have been out before, I am not as nervous. I am looking forward to getting out there and putting my training into practice,” she said.
“Although the environment will be completely different, the work will be much the same. In Liverpool, we have had a lot of practice with gunshot wounds.”
Captain Tierney inspired her friend, Captain Joan Welsh, a senior nursing sister at Clatterbridge Hospital, to join the TA seven years ago.
Now the 48-year-old mother-of-three is about to embark on her first tour.
But Capt Welsh, whose two eldest sons are in the RAF with the youngest waiting to join up, said her family were supportive of her choice of hobby.
She said: “My sons know what it is like. They know it is part of the job. And it is the same for me. One of them has been to Afghanistan and that would devastate a lot of mothers, but because I knew something about it, I could look at it objectively and realise he had to go.”
They are in for a gruelling tour in heat that will reach 50 degrees Centigrade (about 126F).
Captain Welsh said: “We are all slightly apprehensive, but looking forward to it. It is doing something worthwhile with the skills we already have.”