Select Committee on Defence First Special Report

ANNEX G: Committee Recommendations: Progress (continued)

Seventh Report: Gulf Veterans' Illnesses (HC 125) Published: 11 May 2000
Government Reply: Eleventh Special Report (HC 215) Published: 2 August 2000

  Recommendations and undertakings Government Response Committee Response/Follow-up Further GovernmentAction Notes
1.That the MoD look at ways in which it could further enhance the information provided on its Gulf illnesses website,including facilitating contact between veterans. (Para 15) Website is being redeveloped. Veterans will be able to receive news and updates by e-mail subscription.        
2.That the MoD has been remiss in not using the data available to the MAP to better advantage. (Para 19) MAP data is currently being used in a number of studies, including a UK/US collaborative research project investigating 'war syndromes'.     
3.We look forward to seeing evidence that the improvements put in place are having a significant effect on the way the MAP operates. We also hope that the results of the clinical audit will be published in the very near future. (Para 23) Review of investigational tests undertaken by MAP will be published as soon as possible and appropriate adjustments made to range of tests offered.     
 Recommendations and undertakings Government Response Committee Response/Follow-up Further GovernmentAction Notes
4.To consider providing additional assistance to Gulf veterans who have to travel long distances to the MAP. (Para 25) Travel warrants are already provided and accommodation near to the MAP is arranged and paid for if appropriate. MAP physicians occasionally visit veterans who cannot travel to London. Possibility of medical assessment sessions being held outside London is being explored.     
5.That the results of the audit of psychological assessments will be published in the government's response to the Report. (Para 28) Review has been carried out. It found that although assessment of veterans for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was successful but necessary treatment was not always available. Aim to change procedures to ensure speedier assessment and easier access to treatment.     
6.That the MoD thoroughly eview the way it provides medical assistance to Gulf veterans, taking full account of the views of veterans themselves, so as to provide a service which meets their needs and fulfils the MoD's obligations to them. (Para 29) MoD believes MAP has been run more efficiently recently and the vast majority of veterans are satisfied with its services. However, they undertake to investigate any specific complaints from the Committee or veterans.     
 Recommendations and undertakings Government Response Committee Response/Follow-up Further GovernmentAction Notes
7.That Gulf veterans should be offered appropriate tests, based on the most up-to-date scientific information available and that the full scope of the tests, and any limitations, should be clearly explained to those undergoing them. (Para 39) Discussions have recently been held with veterans representatives about protocols for testing. MoD would wish to ensure that veterans who accept DU testing are clear about what is intended and that the results of any tests and the health consequences of the results are properly communicated to them.    See statement by Armed Forces Minister, 9 January 2001
8.That the MoD will take on board the findings of the Royal Society's study of depleted uranium when they are available, and that the MoD demonstrate that it is driving research in this area rather than, adopting a reactive approach and responding to new developments only when forced to by events.(para 40) MoD welcomes and supports the Royal Society's study and has made information available to it. In addition, an MoD Depleted Uranium Working Group has been established to provide a better explanation of the potential chemical and radiological hazards associated with DU and to examine the potential for additional research.    See statement by Armed Forces Minister, 9 January 2001
 Recommendations and undertakings Government Response Committee Response/Follow-up Further GovernmentAction Notes
9.It is essential that full and up to date medical records are maintained for all individuals in the Armed Forces throughout their service careers and including any medical treatment received during deployments. (Para 50) A new operational medical record has been introduced. A post deployment screening procedure has been introduced for troops returning from Sierra Leone, one aim of which is to ensure all deployment medical data is recorded on permanent medical records.     
10.That in future former and current Service personnel and their medical practitioners are able to obtain necessary information without undue delays. (Para 52) Agree but some delays are unavoidable.     
11.That detailed work be carried out to ascertain whether there are any links between possible exposures veterans might have suffered [to chemical and biological weapons] and the symptoms which some are now exhibiting. (Para 65) MoD will continue to conduct research. A substantial number of US projects are being closely monitored.     
 Recommendations and undertakings Government Response Committee Response/Follow-up Further GovernmentAction Notes
12.That the government take advice from the Medical Research Council to enable systematic and detailed research to be conducted into the number of veterans with unexplained illnesses, the nature of the symptoms, and the way the illnesses are progressing. Veterans and their associations should be asked for their views on the form the studies should take and their co-operation with them actively sought. (Para 72) Work of this kind is under way. MoD has stated that researcher may put proposals to the Medical Research Council for peer review at any time and the MoD will consider any proposal that the MRC approves. However, research into specific causes of Gulf veterans' illnesses should await the outcome of epidemiological studies already under way.     
13.That the new Chief Scientific Adviser be encouraged to review the past scientific advice given to the Ministry on Gulf War illnesses and to draw lessons from this for the future. (Para 73) MoD is compiling a 'lessons learned' paper drawing together various strands of lessons from the Gulf, which will include the provision of scientific advice on Gulf veterans' illnesses.     
 Recommendations and undertakings Government Response Committee Response/Follow-up Further GovernmentAction Notes
14.That those who have served their country feel that they are adequately compensated if they have suffered illness as a result of their service. (Para 74)     Awaiting outcome of MoD's compensation review.
15.The MoD should not use its overall review of pensions as a means of deferring action to assist Gulf veterans, and we look forward to an early announcement of the government's position on the seven-year rule. (Para 77) The government believes the legislation covering claims outside the seven year rule is sufficiently generous and it is not feasible to restrict any concessions to Gulf veterans. Were further research to show that there was a service-related cause for otherwise unexplained illness, claims for war pensions could succeed.     
16.To provide further evidence that effective claims and appeal procedures are in place at the War Pensions Agency. (Para 81) WPA has further streamlined its procedures and continues to make efforts to reduce the time taken to deal with cases. The MoD and WPA have improved their co-ordination on Gulf veteran issues.     
17.That more should be done to assist veterans and their representative organisations in this respect of compensation claims (Para 87) MoD has done nothing to deprive Gulf veterans of their right to take legal action against MoD in accordance with the provisions of the Crown Proceedings (Armed Forces) Act 1987.     
 Recommendations and undertakings Government Response Committee Response/Follow-up Further GovernmentAction Notes
18.That the MoD should review and clarify its contractual arrangements with civilian contractors and their employers to ensure that they are adequately protected when deployed overseas with the Armed Forces. (Para 91) Review currently being carried out through the joint MoD/ Industry Contractors on Deployed Operations (CONDO) project team. It is due to report by the end of 2001.     
19.That the MoD consider ways in which civilian contractors who served alongside Service personnel during the Gulf conflict, and who had no other form of insurance protection, can be adequately compensated for injuries and illnesses they sustained as a result of their service. (Para 92) See above.    
20.To see a great deal more progress in terms of ensuring Gulf veterans have access to adequate financial provision and to appropriate medical treatments and advice. (Para 99) Government believes current financial provisions are the most appropriate way of compensating Gulf veterans. Veterans have full access to the range of services provided by the NHS and the Defence Medical Services if they are still serving.     
 Recommendations and undertakings Government Response Committee Response/Follow-up Further GovernmentAction Notes
21.That the MoD work with the Department of Health to establish trial treatments which may be of benefit to veterans and actively encourage participation by veterans and their representative organisations in such trials. (Para 100) Given that large scale trials are under way in the US, it seems sensible to await those results before recommending comparable treatments for UK veterans. The MoD and Department of Health will keep possible treatments under review, in particular the Chief Medical Officer's Working Group on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME which may provide guidance on possible treatments for Gulf veterans.     

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