A hospital has apologised to an RAF sergeant after staff removed him from an accident and emergency waiting room because they thought his uniform might "upset" other patients.
Aircraft engineer Mark Prendeville was taken to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, when fire extinguisher chemicals got in his eyes during a training exercise.
The 38-year-old, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was first taken to an empty part of the waiting room, and then moved around a corner by staff, The Sun reported.
Relatives said hospital workers told them “they didn't want to upset people” and “have lots of different cultures coming in”.
Sgt Prendeville's father, Jim Prendeville, told the BBC he was “disgusted” by the way his son had been treated.
"He's served all over the world, he's been to Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq you name it, he's been there," he added.
"He's a very quiet lad, he wouldn't kick up a fuss, but afterwards he was absolutely dumbfounded by the way he was treated because he was in uniform."
A spokesperson for East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust apologised to Sgt Prendeville for “any embarrassment” but said staff were acting in his interest after a previous incident.
“A member of the armed forces in uniform attended our A&E and was asked by a member of staff if he wanted to sit inside the department rather than the waiting room,” he added.
“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.”
The hospital trust is now issuing new guidance to staff on the issue to “make sure that this never happens again”.
The spokesperson said: “(The trust is) absolutely clear that members of Her Majesty's armed forces, whether in uniform or not, should not be treated any differently to any other person“."
Sgt Prendeville had been training at RAF Manston, in Kent, when the accident happened on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by PAReuse content