Gulf War Syndrome

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 7th February 2005.

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Photo of Joan Walley Joan Walley Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North 2:30 pm, 7th February 2005

What his latest estimate is of the number of former service personnel suffering from Gulf war-related illnesses.

Photo of Mr Ivor Caplin Mr Ivor Caplin Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence is unable to estimate how many personnel may be suffering from Gulf-related illnesses as it does not hold the primary health care records for the 53,000 veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf conflict. This information is held by the individuals' doctors and is not accessible for reasons of patient confidentiality.

Photo of Joan Walley Joan Walley Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North

I noted what my hon. Friend said earlier about the importance of further medical research and the possibility even of a public inquiry, but my constituents, who believe that they are suffering from this syndrome, want to know exactly what further health care they can have, and that the research is taking place. Will he give an assurance that he will keep in close contact with the National Gulf Veterans and Families Benevolent Association, because 13 years after the Gulf war we owe those ex-servicemen the very best in health care?

Photo of Mr Ivor Caplin Mr Ivor Caplin Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence

We take the illnesses that some Gulf veterans have very seriously indeed. The Gulf medical assessment programme is based at St. Thomas' hospital and if any Gulf veteran from the first Gulf war or from Operation Telic has any concerns about their health, they should immediately contact St. Thomas' hospital.