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Armed Forces: Health Services

Defence written question – answered on 3rd May 2011.

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Photo of Lindsay Roy Lindsay Roy Labour, Glenrothes

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to provide assistance for armed forces personnel affected by (a) post traumatic stress and (b) physical trauma.

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) provides a comprehensive programme of medical support for service personnel, and the strategic defence and security review included a commitment to maintain and further develop the medical support provided by the Defence Medical Services and the NHS.

We train armed forces personnel and their commanders about the need to recognise mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, and how to seek help if necessary. In Afghanistan, we deploy uniformed mental health nurses to provide assessment and treatment, and have successfully introduced an informal peer-led programme known as TRiM (Trauma Risk Management). In the UK, we provide community-based mental health care, both at local unit level and through our 15 military Departments of Community Mental Health across the UK (plus centres overseas), which provide out-patient treatment. In-patient care, when necessary, is provided in specialised psychiatric units under contract with the NHS. We are working with the Department of Health to enhance existing healthcare services by implementing recommendations made by my hon. Friend Dr Murrison in his “Fighting Fit” report into the health of our armed forces.

For operational trauma casualties in Afghanistan, those whose injuries are too serious to be treated at the Camp Bastion Field Hospital are aeromedically evacuated back to the UK, where they will usually be admitted to the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Edgbaston, Birmingham. This brand-new NHS hospital is at the leading edge in the medical care of serious polytrauma, as commonly sustained by our operational casualties. We can be sure that by admitting them to that hospital they will have immediate access to some of the best clinical specialists and medical equipment available in the UK today.

Post-hospital rehabilitation and ongoing treatment is also available through a range of specialist MOD facilities, including 15 Regional Rehabilitation Units around the UK and overseas, which offer a range of rehabilitation and physiotherapy to those requiring it. For those needing the most specialist treatment, such as amputees, the dedicated Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in Surrey provides a first-rate facility on an in-patient basis to service personnel from all parts of the UK.

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