Armed Forces: Mesothelioma

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 16th June 2015.

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Photo of Lord West of Spithead Lord West of Spithead Labour

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what data is collected about the incidence of mesothelioma among members of the armed forces; what studies of this issue have been conducted; what estimates they have made of the future incidence of mesothelioma among service men and women and of connected fatalities; and whether any consideration is being given to extending legislative provisions on compensation related to mesothelioma to include members of the armed forces affected by their service.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) holds some data about the incidence of mesothelioma among members of the Armed Forces. For example, since 1995 the MOD has been able to identify if an individual has been medically discharged as a result of the condition.

Diagnoses for cancers are made at secondary care level by the NHS, however the data the NHS Cancer Registries collect is not at an occupational level.

The MOD has not conducted studies or research about mesothelioma. A 2009 case control study of occupational risks in the British population undertaken by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that about 2,500 Royal Navy veterans will die from mesothelioma between 2013 and 2047. Two thirds of the deaths occur in those aged 80 years or above.

The War Pensions Scheme provides no-fault compensation on discharge for Service personnel and their dependants for injuries, illness and death caused as a result of Service before 6 April 2005. Veterans who contracted mesothelioma before 6 April 2005 can claim no-fault compensation under the War Pensions Scheme, rather than through the Mesothelioma 2014 Scheme. The latter is a last resort arrangement for individuals when their employer/employer's insurer is unknown. Because their employer is known, and the MOD insures itself, the 2014 Act does not benefit former Service personnel.

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