Armed Forces: Royal Centre for Defence Medicine

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:11 pm on 10 October 2006.

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Photo of Lord Bramall Lord Bramall Crossbench 3:11, 10 October 2006

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that optimistic statement—or overoptimistic, as some might think. As a famous Chief of the Imperial General Staff from World War I said, "I've 'eard different". The centre was described by a Minister six and a half years ago as a key element in the regeneration of Defence Medical Services, which another Minister openly admitted were suffering a crisis of morale. As the Minister said, it opened in 2001 boasting the title "centre of excellence". Does the Minister not find it slightly shameful, therefore, that it has never in fact properly got off the ground to correct those ills because of lack of Treasury funding?

There are strong rumours, which the Minister may wish to comment on, that the centre is shortly to be dispersed. Will he not recognise that failing to allow the centre to live up to its promised expectations, particularly in teaching—all its specialists get whipped off to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan—is contributing to the Government's overdependence on the National Health Service and on their continual inability to provide regulars and reservists with the full comprehensive and appropriate medical cover that they so richly deserve, including, of course, the aftercare?