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Armed Forces: Wounded Personnel

Volume 714: debated on Thursday 12 November 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what provision is made for care and support for armed service personnel injured and incapacitated on duty; and how the adequacy of such provision is monitored and assessed. [HL5722]

The Defence Medical Services (DMS) provide an extensive range of medical treatment and wider welfare support for wounded service personnel. This starts in the operational theatre, with life-saving medical treatment on the frontline and in our field hospitals. Those who need further specialist care back in the UK are normally returned to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital, which is at the leading edge in the treatment of multiple trauma injuries as commonly sustained by our battle casualties, and has a military-managed ward.

If patients require further rehabilitation care they may be referred to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court in Surrey, or for outpatient treatment at one of the MoD's 15 military regional rehabilitation units. We also provide mental health care for those who need it, primarily through our 15 military out-patient Departments of Community Mental Health across the UK plus centres overseas; in-patient care is arranged for those who need it.

Wider support to those who are injured is overseen by a Welfare Coordinator, who will work with appropriate specialists to offer support and advice in such areas as housing, access to services and counselling if required, as well as providing support through key transition points, such as a move to or from Headley Court. If injured personnel are discharged from the services, the responsibility for overseeing welfare provision switches to the Veterans Welfare Service, run by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency. We also provide compensation to those injured in the line of duty through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).

All medical and welfare provision is regularly reviewed internally to ensure it remains fit for purpose. In addition, an independent external review of the Defence Medical Services was carried out in 2008-09 by the Healthcare Commission; a new Defence Medical Inspector General post was created in 2008, whose remit includes following the commission's review with a wider internal review across the whole DMS and other appropriate defence process owners. Lord Boyce, former Chief of the Defence Staff, is also currently chairing a review of the AFCS to assess its effectiveness.