A military-managed ward is to be set up in an NHS hospital for troops recuperating after treatment for injuries, Tony Blair confirmed yesterday.

The ward will be at Birmingham’s Selly Oak Hospital, which already treats many patients from the armed forces. But Mr Blair ruled out re-opening military hospitals, as demanded by some campaigners.

The PM said that no military hospital could match "the specialised care and treatment our wounded forces are getting within the NHS".

 At his monthly press conference last week, Mr Blair pointed out that at any one time there were only enough troops requiring hospital treatment to fill one or two wards. Yesterday, he revealed that there were currently 12 at the Selly Oak and Queen Elizabeth NHS hospitals in Birmingham, which also host the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine. Armed forces doctors and nurses based in Birmingham are able to develop their skills for the frontline environment by working in busy NHS facilities, he said.

And Mr Blair added: "We want to go further now and set up a ward managed by the military at Selly Oak."