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Iraq: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many military personnel who have served or who are serving in the present engagement in Iraq have been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder; and what is this figure as a proportion of the total number of service personnel who have served in the current operation.[HL7537]

Between1 January 2003 and 30 June 2006, 1897 UK service personnel (regular and Reservists) who were deployed to Iraq on Operation TELIC were diagnosed bythe Defence Medical Services at a department of community mental health with a mental health condition thought to be related to their deployment.

Of these, 278 fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder; that represents around 0.3 per cent of service personnel deployed to Iraq in the same period.

Some 829 others were diagnosed with an adjustment disorder. This figure will include some personnel who have post-traumatic symptoms not amounting to full PTSD but with some symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

These figures do not include any personnel who have received treatment for a mental health condition since leaving the Armed Forces. This is because, on leaving the Armed Forces, or on demobilisation for Reservists, it is the long-established practice that responsibility for medical care passes to the NHS. This has been the case since 1948 under successive Governments. To collate figures on medical treatment received by every veteran would therefore require an examination of the records of every NHS trust (and every independent healthcare provider) in the country and could therefore only be done at disproportionate cost.

At a time when personnel have been deployed to other operational theatres before or after deployment to Iraq, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attribute a subsequent mental health condition—which in many cases may not present itself until months or even years later—to service on a specific deployment. The department is therefore reviewing its methods of collating figures on service personnel diagnosed with a mental health condition.