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Armed Forces: Health Services

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) by what means he monitors whether servicemen and women discharged with combat stress receive continuing treatment from the NHS; (172885)

(2) what arrangement his Department has in place for the transfer of the medical care of discharged service men and women to the NHS.

The Ministry of Defence is committed to doing all it reasonably can to ensure successful transition to civilian life. On discharge, all ex-service personnel are provided with a medical summary record, and this can be presented at the GP’s surgery when they register with a civilian doctor. If the doctor has a requirement for the full medical record, we will provide this upon request.

For the vast majority of service personnel these procedures are sufficient to ensure a seamless transition to the NHS. However, for those who are medically discharged with significant ongoing physical or mental health conditions, the care is formally handed over to appropriate medical staff by MOD specialists as the patient is medically discharged.

In the case of physical illness or injury, social work teams at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre or the single service welfare organisations ensure this seamless transfer. For those with ongoing mental illness, the specific Defence Medical Services mental health team who have been caring for that individual will begin a liaison with appropriate civilian healthcare providers (e.g. general practitioner civil mental health team) to ensure that transfer of care and patient history takes place. Additionally, we have specific mental health social workers who manage the individual’s wider resettlement issues, liaising with relevant civil agencies such as local housing authorities, financial authorities, service welfare and charitable organisations. These MOD mental health social workers ensure that the individual's transfer into the civilian environment is as smooth as possible.

Since the beginning of 2007, we have also put in place arrangements for the Department’s Veterans Welfare Service to monitor those discharged with a seriously disabling injury; this covers cases of both physical and psychological injury. While this monitoring is primarily focused on welfare matters, the service will also identify sources of medical assistance where appropriate. In cases where there is a mental health issue, this could include if appropriate a NHS/MOD Mental Health Pilot team, the Medical Assessment Programme at St. Thomas’ Hospital London, or the charity Combat Stress.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to his Department of health provision for service men and women in the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force was in 2006-07. (172894)

The information is not held in the format requested.

The Defence Medical Services (DMS) are headed jointly by the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Health) (DCDS(H) and the Surgeon General (SG). They oversee the work of three separate organisations:

(a) Defence Medical Services Directorate Headquarters (DMSD HQ);

(b) Defence Medical Education and Training Agency (DMETA);

(c) Defence Dental Services (DDS).

DCDS(H) and SG also produce medical policy for the three single services. However, the Royal Navy (RN), Army and Royal Air Force (RAF) Medical Services are responsible for delivering primary healthcare to their respective service commanders in chief and for providing the requisite medical support on operations.

The overall expenditure for the DCDS(Health) organisation for the financial year 2006-07 was £268 million. The organisational structure of the DMS in its entirety means that comprehensive primary care and operational costs cannot be provided without disproportionate effort as they are disaggregated and embedded in individual military units’ budgets.