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Armed Forces: Prosthetics

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 4 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the supply of prosthetic limbs for service personnel injured on operations (a) for the first fitting of the limb and (b) for second and subsequent replacement limbs; and what recent estimate he has made of the average waiting time between the submission of a request for a prosthetic limb and the fitting of the limb in such cases. (251699)

[holding answer 27 January 2009]: Injured service personnel who require prosthetic limbs are supplied with tailor made prostheses with state of the art componentry which is matched to their clinical needs. Service patients requiring such prostheses are transferred to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court when they are medically stable. Within typically two days of arrival they are seen by a prosthetist in order to cast a bespoke socket that will cover the stump and allow attachment of the prosthetic limb itself. The limb is then typically supplied within five days of admission to Headley Court and fitted when it is clinically appropriate. The patient is also given a second limb as a spare and additional limbs or fittings as are required to improve functionality. In cases where a simple replacement of a component is appropriate, individual patient data held at DMRC enable the new item to be manufactured and supplied without necessarily requiring the patient to attend Headley Court in person.

For veterans, the standard of prosthetic limb provision to injured personnel by the Defence Medical Services will, as a minimum, be matched by the NHS in Great Britain as set out in the Service Personnel Command Paper.