HL Deb 08 February 1995 vol 561 cc12-3WA
Lord Gainford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What independent medical audit is carried out on the assessments made of Gulf War Veterans claiming to be suffering from Gulf War Syndrome.

Lord Henley

My department is obviously concerned that any serving or former members of the Armed Forces should be worried about their health following service in the Gulf. It was for this reason that numerous appeals have been made for individuals to come forward for a thorough medical examination under our Gulf Medical Assessment Programme. Under this programme, which has been the main focus of our investigations into the alleged Gulf War Syndrome, UK Gulf veterans receive a full medical evaluation by military medical specialists. Approximately one-third of the 233 veterans who have so far come forward under this programme have now been assessed and diagnosed, enabling some provisional conclusions to be drawn.

Although there remains no scientific or medical evidence of a syndrome, the substantial statistical assurance which these investigations provide now make it appropriate for these preliminary findings to be subject to independent verification and publicised. Consequently, the Royal College of Physicians has been approached to carry out an independent clinical audit of our assessment programme and its results to date, and they have kindly agreed to do so. It has been our intention to make public the detailed preliminary findings of the assessment programme at an appropriate stage when sufficient Gulf veterans have been examined under the MoD medical assessment programme, and my honourable friend the Minister of State of Armed Forces has agreed with the Surgeon General that he should do this in a letter to the British Medical Journal after 100 such assessments have been made.

We again urge all current and former Armed Forces personnel with concerns about their health as a result of service in the Gulf conflict to come forward, through their normal doctors, for assessment under the programme. For those still serving, we repeat our assurance that their careers will not be jeopardised as a result.