HC Deb 02 November 1998 vol 318 cc344-5W
23. Helen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to improve the funding of the Defence Medical Services. [55902]

Mr. George Robertson

Following the Strategic Defence Review, significant additional funding, some £140 million, has been made available to enhance the operational capability of the Defence Medical Services and address problems in the Defence Secondary Care Agency. Specific measures include:

  • Operational Capability
    • addressing current personnel and equipment shortfalls across the three Services as a matter of priority;
    • procurement of a 200 bed primary casualty receiving ship, with a second one available on contract at longer notice if required;
    • ensuring that an additional 800 field hospital beds are available at guaranteed higher readiness; along with their appropriate surgical and other support;
    • the enhancement of the Army's Regular ambulance evacuation capability;
    • the establishment a Regular operational medical supply organisation;
    • the provision of an additional Regular RAF aeromedical evacuation flight and 18 air escort flights;
    • the enhancement of our capability to provide Regular medical support for deployed operating bases and support helicopters;
  • Defence Secondary Care Agency
    • the recruitment of approximately 250 hospital specialists, nurses, technicians and other personnel to bring the Agency up to establishment;
    • funding to enable potential recruits to be medically evaluated more quickly by specialists when required;
    • the enhancement of the community psychiatry service.