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Combat Stress (Retired Service Personnel)

Volume 515: debated on Monday 13 September 2010

5. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on provision of facilities for retired service personnel diagnosed with combat stress. (14522)

The Ministry of Defence works closely with the Department of Health on issues relating to support for former service personnel with mental health needs, in particular through the Partnership Board, which brings together the MOD and the four UK Departments of Health.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison) has produced a report on combat stress, and I wonder whether the Minister knows when it might be published. Both the Combat Stress charity and the Plymouth and district branch of Mind are interested, and they would like to read it sooner rather than later.

May I first pay tribute to Combat Stress—an excellent organisation—and its current chief executive Dave Hill, whom I understand is retiring shortly to Northumberland, where he lives? It does excellent work among ex-service personnel. As to the date of publication, there is an old parliamentary procedure: it will be published shortly.

It is an admirable aspiration for veterans to get priority in receiving NHS treatment. Will the Minister update us on how former veterans will be identified, and what progress he is making with the Department of Health on achieving that?

People who have served in the armed forces need to declare that they have done so, but under the previous Government much work was done to ensure that as people leave the armed forces, they are identified by GPs as former service personnel, and that is how we are progressing. The report that will be produced shortly by my hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison) will deal with this issue. I pay tribute to him for his work, and thank him on behalf of the House and the Government.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious condition, and the lack of diagnosis has led to significant compensation claims. Considering that in the UK health is generally devolved to the various Parliaments and Assemblies, what action is the Minister taking to ensure a consistent response and to address the issue of compensation payments?

PTSD is indeed a serious condition and should not in any way be treated lightly. It is certain that some people returning from combat do suffer from PTSD. The King’s Centre for Military Health Research, led by Professor Simon Wessely, has done a lot of work looking at the condition and what further we can do. I do not have an immediate answer to the question of how we can have settled compensation, except that under the armed forces compensation scheme each person with some form of health problem has a particular tariff, which might apply to PTSD too.