With the British military on standby as back up to prepare for a wave of public sector strikes including ambulance drivers and nurses there importance to the country’s welfare has been underlined beyond defence.
But with overall numbers in the three armed services dropping by 4,910 (2.5 percent) to the year to July this year, there are concerns that pressures are mounting on the people who sign up to defend the country.
In April there were 14,763 personnel unable to be deployed for medical reasons, 7.6 percent of the total 193,890 full time and reserve forces.
The biggest reason given for medical reasons for non-deployent was “musculoskeletal disorders and injuries”, mostly broken bones, totalling 5,924.
But alongside other reasons including mental health disorders were other categories including genitourinary system diseases (including sexually transmitted diseases) on 141 and digestive disorders on 407.
Another 400 had circulatory system disorders while 361 had ear and mastoid process diseases.
The mental health problems have particularly rung alarm bells because of the increasing pressure on military personnel.
Labour’s shadow Armed Forces Minister Luke Pollard said: “At a time when this govenrment is cutting our Armed Forces to their lowest levels for centuries, ensuring our service personnel have the support, training and equipment they need to deploy is more important than ever.
“These statistics show that the Government is falling short on support for serving personnel and that, just like in civilian life, better mental health support needs to be in place so our Armed forces can be as effective as possible. We must support those who protect us.”
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Among the other medical issues were 233 personnel suffering from nutritional problems and 114 with respiratory disorders. Another 105 had eye diseases while 263 had nervous system problems. No cause was put down for 510 of the medical issues.
In the answer, armed forces minister Andrew Murrison said: “The figures provided are for full time trained (Royal Navy and RAF), trade trained (Army) and serving against requirement personnel in service. This includes Reserve Forces personnel filling Regular posts whilst serving on Full Time Reserve Service. The figures do not include other Reserve, civilian, foreign service or non-UK military personnel.
“The figures have been grouped as per the chapters of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems Tenth Revision (ICD-10).
“Where stated ‘Electronic medical record description not codable in ICD-10’, the principal cause of downgrading provided in the electronic medical record could not be matched to ICD-10.
“Where stated ‘No cause information held on electronic medical record’, no medical downgrading information was available from the Defence Medical Information Capability Programme.”
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