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Gulf War Illnesses

Volume 709: debated on Wednesday 1 April 2009

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Kevan Jones) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

As part of the Government’s continuing commitment to investigate Gulf veterans’ illnesses openly and honestly, data on the mortality of veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict are published regularly.  The most recent figures for the period 1 April 1991 to 31 December 2008 are published today as a National Statistic Notice on the Defence Analytical Services and Advice website.

The data for Gulf veterans are compared to those of a control group known as the Era cohort consisting of Armed Forces personnel of a similar profile in terms of age, gender, service, regular/reservists status and rank, who were in service on 1 January 1991 but were not deployed to the Gulf.  As in the previous release, the Era group has been adjusted for a small difference in the age-profile of those aged 40 years and over, to ensure appropriate comparisons.

Key points to note in the data are:

there have been 997 deaths among the Gulf veterans and 1,008 in the age-adjusted Era comparison group; and

the 997 deaths among Gulf veterans compare with approximately 1,609 deaths which would have been expected in a similar sized cohort taken from the general population of the UK with the same age and gender profile.  This reflects the strong emphasis on fitness when recruiting and retaining service personnel.

These statistics continue to confirm that UK veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf conflict do not suffer an excess of overall mortality compared with service personnel that did not deploy.

The full notice can be viewed at www.dasa.mod.uk.