Armed Forces: High Threat Operatives

House of Lords written question – answered on 26th April 2011.

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Photo of Lord Moonie Lord Moonie Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the incidence of stress in high threat operatives causing temporary impairment or requiring repatriation.

Photo of Lord Astor of Hever Lord Astor of Hever Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine mental health team is assessing the mental health of all operational casualties repatriated with a physical injury that requires admittance for 14 days or more. These assessments are repeated at intervals over a two-year period.

In addition, it is recognised that high threat explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operatives, by the nature of their work and the tempo of operations in Afghanistan, are at an increased risk of exposure to significantly stressful situations while on operations. EOD teams are rotated through Camp Bastion on a routine basis to afford them a respite from continuous exposure to these high stress levels, and have ready access to a mental health professional within the camp.

In 2010, the Defence Medical Services undertook an Operational Mental Health Needs Evaluation (OMHNE) that looked specifically at EOD personnel, and which found a slight, but significant, increase in mental health symptoms among them. This survey, together with evidence from the chain of command, is being used to refine the current decompression package towards the specific needs of EOD teams. A further OMHNE in July 2011, surveying a range of UK personnel deployed in Afghanistan, will include further specific sampling of EOD operatives.

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