HC Deb 10 December 1998 vol 322 c258W
Mr. Beith

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information is made available to doctors treating Gulf War veterans in relation to any exposure they may have had to materials which may have been toxic or hazardous, with particular reference to depleted uranium. [63033]

Mr. Doug Henderson

Any Gulf veteran who is concerned that his or her health has been adversely affected by Service during the Gulf conflict, including possible exposure to depleted uranium (DU), is entitled to seek a referral to the MOD's Medical Assessment Programme (MAP) for a full medical assessment. During this assessment, MAP patients receive a standard set of tests and are asked by the examining MAP physician to provide detailed information about possible factors, including DU, to which they may have been exposed during the Gulf conflict. Following the assessment, the examining physician will write to the doctor who referred the patient to the programme, to provide diagnostic information and recommend any appropriate treatment. It is then that doctor's responsibility to take forward and monitor the treatment as he or she would for any other patient. For veterans who have left the Armed Forces, their doctor will normally be a GP and any recommended treatment will therefore be carried out within the NHS.

In consultation with the Department of Health and the health departments of the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland Offices, the Ministry of Defence has produced an information pack with the intention of providing General Practitioners and other health professionals with information which they may find useful in dealing with Gulf veterans' health concerns. This pack includes summaries of what is known about a number of possible factors to which veterans may have been exposed during their service in the Gulf, including DU. It also includes an overview of research which has been carried out in areas related to Gulf veterans' illnesses, together with a bibliography of key papers. The information pack has been placed on the MOD's internet site and is available in hard copy on request. My Department is currently considering how best to ensure further than this information reaches its target audience. A copy of the pack has been placed in the Library of the House.