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Armed Forces: Health Services

Volume 503: debated on Wednesday 6 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for how many service personnel resident in (a) Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency, (b) the Highlands and (c) Scotland his Department has purchased accelerated access to (i) NHS and (ii) private treatment in each of the last five years. (304646)

Accelerated access is a term used by the MOD in the context of physical illnesses and injuries. It is separate to the specific “fast track” arrangements for orthopaedic treatment and separate provision is also made for access to in-patient care for mental health conditions.

Secondary health care accelerated access for service personnel is commissioned through the NHS. In England, contracts have been established with six selected NHS Trusts (located in areas of significant military population) to purchase accelerated access for elective referrals in a faster time scale than NHS standard target times, when this is necessary to meet operational requirements. There are no such formal arrangements with private sector providers for physical conditions.

If these routes would not produce timely access to treatment, then the MOD would pay for accelerated access to care from facilities in Scotland on a case-by-case basis. Cases where this has been done are not recorded centrally, and details could be obtained only from an individual search of medical records, which could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The most common medical conditions in military patients are musculo-skeletal disorders. Since April 2004, for patients with these conditions, we have arranged rapid access to diagnosis and, for the minority who are then found to need it, surgery in NHS facilities, thus enabling the services to respond to the current high operational tempo and return personnel to full fitness for task when this is clinically deliverable. In Scotland, patients will usually be assessed first by the military Regional Rehabilitation Unit (RRU) in Edinburgh, from where they will be referred if necessary for “fast track” orthopaedic surgery. Numbers of referrals are readily available only from 1 October 2005. The following table shows the number of referrals for “fast track” orthopaedic surgery made by RRU Edinburgh, 1 October 2005 to 10 December 2009.



1 October to 31 December 2005


1 January to 31 December 2006


1 January to 31 December 2007


1 January to 31 December 2008


1 January to 10 December 2009


Referrals between October 2005 and September 2008 would have been to the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit, Northallerton. Referrals after September 2008 to date have been to the Nuffield Hospital in Glasgow.