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Volume 458: debated on Thursday 22 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department takes to assist service personnel discharged from the three armed forces on medical grounds to (a) achieve the maximum fitness and mobility possible and (b) assist in securing alternative employment. (127363)

Health care for service personnel is provided by Defence Medical Services. Treatment aims to assist injured service personnel to recover the best level of fitness and mobility possible. If medical discharge is appropriate, it will only be used as a last resort. Once they leave the armed forces, responsibility for their health care passes to the NHS and there are processes in place to assist the smooth transition from DMS to NHS treatment. If a veteran is also a war pensioner, he or she will be entitled to priority NHS treatment for the accepted condition(s); priority is decided by the clinician in charge and is subject to clinical need.

Those who are medically discharged from the armed forces are entitled to the full resettlement programme (FRP) offered within the MOD's resettlement package, provided by the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), irrespective of their length of service1. The FRP includes briefings, workshops, individual counselling, coaching, CV preparation and analysis of transferable competences, job finding, and conversion and skills enhancement training. All discharged personnel remain on the CTP books for two years after discharge. Thereafter, the Regular Forces Employment Association (RFEA) and the Officers' Association (OA) offer ex-service personnel support for the rest of their working lives. The RFEA and OA are particularly concerned with job-finding activities, and are sub-contractors on the CTP contract.

To help achieve the Department's aim of a successful return to civilian life for ex-service personnel, whether medically discharged or not, the CTP offers at its resettlement training centre (RTC) at Aldershot around 40 job-related courses. Many courses result in recognised qualifications while others can lead to employment with companies which have established close links with the RTC. Such training is not mandatory for service leavers. Service leavers who do not choose the RTC route may make use of the individual resettlement training costs (IRTC) grant, currently a maximum of £534, for training courses not offered by the RTC but available in the wider training market.

1 The FRP is normally only available to those who have served at least five years with the armed forces.