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Armed Forces: Psychology

Volume 471: debated on Friday 1 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of the effect on recruitment and retention of psychologists for the armed forces of not having practitioners in uniform; (182405)

(2) how the UK's policy on uniformed psychologists in the armed forces compares with that of other NATO countries.

The Defence Medical Services employ uniformed military psychiatrists and mental health nurses. We currently assess that there is no requirement to employ uniformed clinical psychologists. In operational theatres, we deploy highly skilled and experienced uniformed mental health nurses to provide the necessary in-theatre care and treatment for our personnel.

We employ civilian clinical psychologists as integral components of the mental health multi-disciplinary teams in our military Departments of Community Mental Health. They have a vital role in providing tertiary care for referred patients, supervision for other team members, and in the development of the service.

It is not considered that there is a detrimental effect on recruiting and retention of not having practitioners in uniform but we always keep those matters under review.

The MOD maintains an awareness of the practices and policies of allied nations, many of whom do employ uniformed clinical psychologists but most of whom, unlike the UK, do not have an experienced cadre of mental health nurses.