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Gulf War Syndrome

Volume 401: debated on Tuesday 18 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of Gulf War veterans who are (a) receiving treatment for Gulf War syndrome, (b) have outstanding compensation claims to his Department for Gulf War syndrome and (c) have been compensated by his Department for Gulf War syndrome. [103452]

[holding answer 17 March 2003]: The Ministry of Defence does not recognise "Gulf War Syndrome" as a medical condition. It accepts that some veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf Conflict have become ill and that many believe this ill health is related to their Gulf experience. A large number of multi-system, multi-organ, non-specific, medically unexplained symptoms have been reported by some Gulf veterans as well recognised medical conditions. The overwhelming consensus of the scientific and medical community is that there is insufficient evidence to enable this ill-health to be characterised as a unique illness, condition or `syndrome'. The MOD's approach must be guided by findings from the scientific and medical community. Primary health care records for the 53, 000 or so veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf conflict are held by their doctors and are not accessible centrally for reason of patient confidentiality.When compensation claims are submitted, they are considered on the basis of whether or not the MOD has a legal liability to pay compensation. Where there is a legal liability arising to pay compensation we do so. The MOD has received about 2,000 notices of intention to claim from Gulf veterans, and members of their families in respect of illness allegedly arising from the Gulf conflict, but no writs or formal claims have yet been received. No compensation has therefore been paid following claims for Gulf veterans' illnesses.The fact that there is, at present, no proper basis for recognising "Gulf War Syndrome" as an appropriate diagnostic label does not prevent a Gulf veteran from getting a war pension. A war pension can be paid for any disablement provided that a causal link to Service is accepted. Over 1,200 war pensions have been awarded to Gulf veterans by the Veterans Agency.