The Daily Telegraph

Trial of device to stop troops bleeding halted over £5m cost

- By Dominic Nicholls

THE Ministry of Defence has shelved a trial of a life-saving device to help stop bleeding on the battlefiel­d due to the £5 million cost, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

In 2019, Gavin Williamson, then defence secretary, announced a trial of a “medical autoinject­or”, which could help ensure that soldiers injured on the battlefiel­d did not die from uncontroll­ed bleeding.

The devices would have let soldiers apply a chemical called tranexamic acid (TXA) at the push of a button.

When someone is injured, their body should naturally produce clots to help stem the bleeding. However, in the case of major trauma, such as the loss of a leg, the body can wrongly send a message to break down the clots.

This leads to the risk that the injured person will die from the bleeding.

TXA is a naturally occurring molecule that counteract­s this and prevents the body breaking down clots.

The autoinject­or device would allow this to be administer­ed on the battlefiel­d, without needing to find a vein.

When he announced the trial, Mr Williamson said the technology would have “an immediate impact in [reducing] deaths on the battlefiel­d”.

He added that: “This funding shows our commitment to ensuring those serving on the frontline get the best treatment as rapidly as possible.”

However, while the MOD says it is “scoping options” to bring in technology, The Telegraph can reveal the money is “prioritise­d for use elsewhere”.

An MOD spokesman said: “In order to meet critical requiremen­ts, funding previously announced for [tranexamic] auto-injectors across the Armed Forces was prioritise­d for use elsewhere.”

Ben Barry, of the Internatio­nal Institute for Strategic Studies, said bandages fitted with new coagulant technology such as TXA made a considerab­le difference to US forces in Afghanista­n.

“These autoinject­ors might increase that effect,” he said.

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