The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall yesterday met British service personnel injured in action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The couple were given a tour of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, based at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, where most servicemen and women injured overseas are flown to for treatment.

Charles and Camilla were met by Air Commodore Tony Batchelor, who is in charge of the centre, and John Charlton, chair of the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

The pair were given a private briefing about the site, which opened in 2001 as a centre for medical training and research, before making separate visits to meet the wounded and their carers.

The prince was taken to the main hospital building where he met military and civilian medical staff who look after injured servicemen and women alongside other patients on mixed wards.

He spent more than 30 minutes chatting to 11 injured service personnel on a trauma ward, including some from the Parachute Regiment, of which he is Commander in Chief, and who he is thought to have made a special request to meet.

The prince's visit comes at a time when the treatment of injured service personnel on civilian wards has been criticised.

But Wing Commander Ian Sargeant, trauma and orthopaedics consultant, said he thought the breadth and depth of expertise available at the trust meant military patients were receiving the very best treatment.

He said: "Our guys are receiving better treatment then they ever have before.

"In the last three to four weeks we have had cohorts of patients coming in from operations requiring a lot of care and this has happened without any impact on civilian patients being treated here.

"The advantage of (military patients) being here is that they've got all of the disciplines that are required for dealing with major trauma.

"I think it would be very difficult for any of the military hospitals in the past to have shown that cross-disciplinary expertise or depth of expertise."

Asked about the royal visit, Wing Commander Sargeant said: "Prince Charles has shown a lot of interest in what we do here. His visit is wonderful because it raises the profile of what we are doing."

The officer was supported in his comments by Professor Keith Porter, traumatology consultant at the hospital, who said: "The military and civil-ian infrastructure works very well in this establishment from a training point of view and in the care given to patients.

"We benefit from the knowledge that military doctors bring and a lot of our expertise helps them."

Prof Porter said security at Selly Oak and Queen Elizabeth was "appropriate and adequate".