Hospital told RAF sergeant to leave waiting room in case his uniform upset other patients

Mark Prendeville

An RAF sergeant who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan was moved out of a hospital waiting room because staff feared his uniform would upset people from different cultures, it was reported.

Aircraft engineer Mark Prendeville’s treatment was condemned as ‘horrifying’ by military figures and Air Force veterans – but follows a string of incidents in recent years where service personnel were snubbed because of their uniform.

Sergeant Prendeville, 38, was taken to the A&E 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.

He was then taken to an empty corner of the waiting room before being moved behind a corner by hospital staff, The Sun reported.

In an explanation to his family, hospital workers were said to have claimed ‘they didn’t want to upset people’ because they ‘have lots of different cultures coming in’.

Sergeant Prendeville’s father, Jim, said: ‘Mark was moved because of his uniform – he was told that twice.

The words they used were: “We’ve lots of cultures coming in”.

‘Mark was quite annoyed, but he’s a quiet lad and didn’t want to cause a fuss.’

Mr Prendeville added: ‘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 condemned Sergeant Prendeville’s treatment. Former Chief of the Air Staff Sir Michael Graydon described the incident as ‘disappointing’.

The BBC tries to put a positive spin on the story, but winds up revealing more than they intended.

“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.”

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