HC Deb 19 September 2002 vol 390 cc320-1W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Gulf War veterans in the Portsmouth South constituency have been diagnosed with symptoms connected to Gulf War Syndrome; and if he will make a statement. [64481]

Dr. Moonie

The Ministry of Defence does not recognise "Gulf War Syndrome" as a medical condition. It accepts that some veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf conflict have become ill and that many believe this ill health is unusual and related to their Gulf experience. A large number of multi-system, multi-organ, non-specific, medically unexplained symptoms have been reported by some Gulf veterans as well as recognised medical conditions. The overwhelming consensus of the scientific and medical community is that there is insufficient evidence to enable this ill-health to be characterised as a unique illness, condition or "syndrome". With the exception of certain infectious diseases that are notifiable by statute, primary care doctors in England and Wales do not report centrally illnesses experienced by their patients. Therefore, the MOD is not able to assess the number of Gulf veterans in the Portsmouth, South constituency who have reported illnesses to their doctors. MOD is advised of cancer registrations in England, Wales and Scotland. We have published data on the incidence of cancer-related deaths in Gulf veterans as compared to a comparable group of Service personnel who did not deploy to the Gulf. Gulf veterans who wish to be examined by a physician expert in Gulf veterans' illnesses can be referred by their doctors to the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme (GVMAP) which is funded by the MOD. As of 18 July 2002, 16 Gulf veterans had been seen at the GVMAP who were recorded as living in the Portsmouth, South constituency. Of these 12 were assessed as well at the time of their consultation.