Thursday, January 5, 2012

Long Term Sustainability for Injured Personnel in Doubt. It's a con isn't it?

A Commons Defence Committee has said there are doubts over whether the ‘Government has fully understood the scale of demands to be placed on services in the coming years’ when bearing in mind the number of casualties requiring on-going treatment for injuries received in current conflicts.

The Defence Select Committee report on military casualties praised ‘the first class medical treatment’ available but questioned whether it was sustainable bearing in mind the ‘moral obligation’ to support Service personnel as set out in the Armed Forces Military Covenant. It went on to urge the Government to ‘act as a matter of urgency’ to exclude Armed Forces compensation paid to injured personnel from consideration when ‘means-tested’ benefits are assessed.

It was acknowledged by the committee that while the MoD provided ‘outstanding care’ in many areas ‘this cannot always be said for the support it gives to families’. It was also critical about the lack of support given to children following the death or serious injury of a relative and urged the department to ‘look again’ at its support services.

The committee also said that Government reforms of the National Health Service will affect the future care of soldiers injured on the battlefield and requiring on-going treatment.

When discussing the significant contribution made by Service charities the report suggested that charities could well be paying for projects that should be funded by the MoD. The report said it was important for the MoD and charities ‘to work even more closely together to 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 [after the withdrawal from Afghanistan]’.

The Defence Select Committee Chairman, James Arbuthnot, said:

“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 skillful 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.”

In response the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, Andrew Robathan, said:

“There is always more to do and we will consider carefully the committee’s specific recommendations as we strive to fully meet and sustain our commitment to wounded, injured and sick personnel under the Armed Forces Covenant.”

*Photo © 2007 Brian Harrington Spier, Flickr*

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