First class medical care must continue when the Afghanistan operation becomes history, says Defence Committee.
The Government must show how the excellent medical care being delivered to injured service personnel will continue long after the memory of the Afghan Operation fades, says the Defence Committee in its report, published today (15 December 2011), entitled: 'The Armed Forces Covenant in Action? Part 1: Military Casualties'.
The report, which gives praise to the first class medical treatment provided for the Armed Forces, questions whether the support for injured personnel will be sustainable over the long term. In particular, the committee is concerned about the number of people who may go on to develop severe and life-limiting, physical, mental health, alcohol or neurological problems. There is still a question mark over whether the Government as a whole fully understands the likely future demands and related costs.
Chair of the committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot says,
"We, as a committee, have seen how determined our injured servicemen and women are to achieve the fullest possible recovery from their injuries. They see it as duty to get better and to return to their units if at all possible. And we have been impressed by the brave and skilful personnel, both military and civilian, who are providing the medical care that our Armed Forces need.
But we need to have the confidence that such specific treatment, for injuries hardly ever seen in the general NHS experience, will continue long after an individual’s retirement and into old age.”
Ministry of Defence
In addition to providing first class medical treatment and rehabilitation both in theatre and back in the UK, the MoD also provides other support for severely injured personnel in their journey to health and return to duty or to civilian life. It is too soon to say whether the individual service recovery pathways and the transition protocol with health authorities are working well but they represent steps in the right direction.
The report also notes that the charities and Families Federations are making a significant contribution to the support of injured Armed Forces personnel and veterans and their families but fear that their contribution may be constrained if the level of charitable donations reduces substantially. The committee urges the charities and the MoD to work even more closely together and explore ways of ensuring that new capital projects provided by charities can be sustained into an era when current levels of donations may no longer be relied upon.
Image: Ministry of Defence