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Veterans' Healthcare

Volume 613: debated on Wednesday 13 July 2016

The Armed Forces Covenant is the Government’s commitment to service personnel, their families and veterans who have made enormous sacrifices on recent operations and to ensuring that those seriously injured receive the care and support they deserve. I would like to update the House on some of the steps we have taken to enhance this provision.

The Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court has long provided world-class rehabilitation and prosthetic support to our serving personnel. I am pleased to tell the House that a number of veterans with amputation-related complications can now also receive prosthetic support at Headley Court, through the recent establishment of a veterans’ Complex Prosthetic Assessment Clinic (CPAC) at the DMRC. Access to the CPAC is being offered to veterans with the most complex needs on a case by case basis, after referral by and with the support of their NHS specialist. Early feedback has been good and the Government are working closely with BLESMA, the limbless charity, and other service charities to ensure veterans and NHS clinicians are aware of this initiative and its benefits.

A small number of those referred to the CPAC might also meet the clinical criteria for the direct skeletal fixation (DSF) pilot, for which the Government announced £2 million of LIBOR funding in November 2015. The DSF pilot, which is due to run for another two years, has already enabled some service personnel and veterans to have potentially life-changing surgery in this country at public expense.

I can also announce a plan to improve the care received by the most seriously injured service personnel and veterans. Currently such support is funded and delivered by a number of separate agencies, including the NHS, Ministry of Defence, local authorities and charitable organisations. A pilot, commencing in September will see care of this kind co-ordinated and delivered by a new Integrated High Dependency Care System (IHDCS), producing a joined-up and improved system of care for the individual. This will provide confidence for this small number of individuals, and their families, that their clinical, health and social support needs will continue to be met when they leave the armed forces and for the rest of their lives.

The Government and the nation will never forget the hard work, great bravery and sacrifice of all current and former service personnel and I will ensure the House is kept informed of this continuing and vital work.