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Reserve Forces

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on health screening for reservists following their return from the Gulf to civilian life. [116357]

As part of routine demobilization procedures, members of the reserve forces returning from any operation undergo a routine medical assessment prior to their release from full-time service. The assessment, which is carried out by medical staff, includes the completion of a health declaration by the individual, the listing of any exposures to environmental or industrial hazards, and a medical check including blood pressure measurement, urinalysis and audiometry. All personnel should be offered a consultation with a medical officer at the time of the assessment. Where medical concerns are identified that require further evaluation, medical staff will ensure that suitable arrangements are made. This may include passing information to the individual's civilian GP, having first obtained consent from the individual.I also refer the hon. Member to my Written Statement of 7 May 2003,

Official Report, columns 34–36WS, announcing plans for research in to the physical and psychological health of personnel who deployed to the Gulf and that those concerned about possible exposure to depleted uranium are entitled to a urine test. These arrangements apply to reservists as well as regular personnel. I also announced that reservists who deployed and have concerns about their health generally can be referred by their civilian GP to the Medical Assessment Programme which we established following the 1990–91 Gulf conflict.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 21 May 2003, Official Report, column 786W, on reserve forces, what form the follow-up work with reservists will take. [116386]

As part of the overall process of identifying lessons learned from all aspects of Operation TELIC, we will be interviewing many returning reservists to gauge their views of the mobilisation and demobilisation process. We will also be running a major survey of employers who have been affected by the call-out of reservists.