Medical care for the armed forces: seventh report of session 2007-08, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence
The Committee investigated the provision of healthcare for the armed forces, and examined six key areas. The first was the treatment of personnel seriously wounded on operations, and the procedures for caring for them, from the point of wounding to evacuation to and treatment in the United Kingdom. The second area was the rehabilitation work for those with serious musculo-skeletal or neurological, injuries. The third was the relationship between the Ministry of Defence and the National Health Service in terms of delivering healthcare. The fourth area examined was the care for veterans and service families. The fifth issue was mental healthcare, both for service personnel and for veterans. Finally, the report examines the role of reserve personnel in the Defence Medical Services. Clinical care provided by the Defence Medical Services (DMS), in conjunction with the NHS, for personnel injured on operations is world-class. Rehabilitation work is also found to be exceptional. Services to the armed forces are delivered by the DMS, NHS, charities and welfare organisations, and this helps link the community with service personnel. The Committee would like a wider debate on which services are most appropriately provided by each sector. The Ministry of Defence's decision to base its secondary care around units embedded in NHS Trust is supported, but there is scope for more sharing of best practice between the DMS and the NHS. With veterans, the Committee is not sure adequate procedures are in place to identify veterans and to ensure priority access to services. Mental health is a vital responsibility for DMS, but a robust tracking system for veterans is needed. The reserve forces' contribution to the delivery of military healthcare is praised, but there is a danger of being overstretched.