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NHS: Ministry of Defence Hospitals

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessments they have made of the adequacy of the present number of Ministry of Defence hospital units located within National Health Service hospitals to meet current and projected patient volumes; and how these assessments might impact on the planned decision to close the remaining military hospital at Haslar.[HL7541]

Ministry of Defence hospital units (MDHUs) were set up following the decision taken over a decade ago to close military hospitals. It had become clear that our existing military hospitals did not have a sufficient patient volume or range of cases to develop and maintain the skills of our medical personnel. This would, over time, impact upon the level of care we would be able to provide to our military patients. The same rationale lies behind the MoD’s decision in 1998 to withdraw from the Royal Hospital Haslar.

The principal rationale behind MDHUs, located as they are within NHS hospital trusts, is to enable military medical personnel to maintain their clinical skills in an active, up-to-date hospital environment. Our medical personnel are fully integrated within the host trusts, thus ensuring that they retain the essential qualifications allowing them to deploy quickly to areas of conflict, providing the essential medical support to frontline forces. Working with the NHS allows our patients the best possible care from treatment in specialist areas of NHS hospitals.

Service patients can, and do, receive treatment from any NHS hospital, not just those hosting MDHUs; the question of being unable to meet the projected “patient volumes” would not arise. In addition, it should be noted that the current requirement for hospital in-patient beds for military patients still barely represents two full wards nationwide.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Tom Watson, on 4 September (HC Deb, 1693W), when they expect the new defence medical staff manning requirement figures to be available; and whether these manning requirements will address current shortages in key medical officer and nursing specialities.[HL7543]

The final Defence Medical Services manning requirement figures are expected to be available before the end of this year.

The new requirement figures will indicate the number and type of medical personnel necessary for Defence Medical Services (DMS) to support operations, based on current defence planning assumptions contained in Defence Strategic Guidance 05.