HL Deb 10 June 1998 vol 590 cc91-2WA
Earl Russell

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are aware that United States Forces personnel who saw active service in the Gulf were given hearing tests; and [HL2031]

What percentage of United Kingdom service personnel who saw active service in the Gulf were given hearing tests on their return. [HL2032]

Lord Gilbert

Both UK and US Service personnel undergo regular medical examinations, which include hearing tests. Some UK and US personnel would, therefore, have been due to undergo such routine tests shortly after returning from the Gulf. In addition, both UK and US Service personnel who were discharged from the Armed Forces, or demobilised back into the Reserve Forces, shortly after returning from Gulf service should have received medical examinations, including hearing tests, as part of standard discharge/demobilisation procedures. We are, though, aware that a small number of UK reserve personnel did not receive hearing tests on demobilisation because of a lack of audiometry equipment in theatre.

We are not aware of any special programme of hearing tests being carried out amongst US Service personnel returning from the Gulf. Two studies were undertaken by the British Army to compare hearing levels before and after Operation Granby: one study examined 258 soldiers from an infantry regiment equipped with Warrior Personnel Carriers, and the other examined 548 soldiers from an armoured regiment equipped with Challenger tanks. The results did show some deterioration in hearing levels in some personnel.