One-fifth of soldiers unfit for front line

One in five soldiers is not fit for front-line duty; nearly 5,000 officers and soldiers cannot be deployed for combat duties because of injury, illness, a lack of fitness or non-medical reasons, according to latest figures.

The statistics were revealed in a written Parliamentary answer to Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin in January, and emerged as the government separately unveiled plans to develop “customised care plans” for injured servicemen and women before they move into civilian life.

The answer to Jenkin related to 36 battalions and three guards companies and included troops aged under 18, excused from front-line duty for compassionate reasons, and facing disciplinary action.

The new health package for service personnel will guarantee that all those seriously injured will receive an early and comprehensive assessment of their long-term needs before they leave the forces, the DoH and MoD have said.

It will include the provision of:

Care for life for those with continuing healthcare needs, based on a regular review of their needs overseen by an NHS case manager

Grant funding of £140,000 with the Armed Forces specialist stress organisation Combat Stress (that it has matched) to work directly with mental health trusts to ensure that the services they provide are accessible to and appropriate for military veterans

An entitlement for all veterans who lose a limb while serving in the forces to receive, where clinically appropriate, the same standard of prosthetic limb from the NHS that they received or would receive today from Defence Medical Services

Improved transfer of medical records to the NHS on retirement from the forces, including greater GP awareness of veteran status of new patients to ensure veterans receive their entitlement to priority treatment for any injuries or illness attributable to their time serving in the forces.

Six ex-Armed Forces mental health pilot projects in the NHS were also expected to continue, said health minister Mike O’Brien and veterans minister Kevan Jones.

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