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Armed Forces: Health

Volume 502: debated on Monday 14 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel in each armed service were classified as (a) unfit for duty, (b) fit for limited deployability for medical reasons and (c) overweight at the latest date for which information is available. (303124)

The MOD is currently in the process of modifying the criteria against which it collates management information on the medical fitness of Service personnel. Whereas previously we have measured the medical “fitness for task” of Service personnel, we are now moving to a process of measuring the numbers who are medically “fully deployable”, “limited deployable” and “non-deployable”. This should help us to focus our efforts on maximising the numbers available to deploy on operations.

The single Services and DASA have been working on the collection and validation of figures recorded against the new criteria, using data obtained from the Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system. The aim is to provide reliable, validated data by spring 2010.

A new Armed Forces Weight Management Policy came into force on 1 October 2009, which provides policy for the measurement of body composition and the management of Service personnel who demonstrate increased risk of ill health and inadequate physical fitness owing to their weight. The policy requires each Service to provide annual body composition measurement (BCM) for all personnel, in order to identify an individual's level of health risk and encourage maintenance of a healthy body weight.

Each of the single Services is implementing the policy. The Naval Service Fitness Information Software System (FISS) is currently undergoing user testing and will go live during January 2010, with the first full reporting period being completed 12 months later.

The Army FISS began on 1 April 2009, but roll-out is still in progress and data for a full annual reporting period are not yet available.

The RAF FISS began on 1 October 2007. However, the provision of the data by individuals is voluntary, and prior to the introduction of the revised policy on 1 October 2009 around half of RAF personnel had chosen not to do so. We are therefore unable to supply comprehensive data until a full annual reporting period completes in October 2010.