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13 Dec 11. The Government must show how the excellent medical care being delivered to injured Service personnel will continue long after the memory of the Afghan Operation fades, says the Defence Committee in its Report, published today, entitled: ‘The Armed Forces Covenant in Action? Part 1: Military Casualties’. The Report, which gives praise to the first class medical treatment provided for the Armed Forces, questions whether the support for injured personnel will be sustainable over the long term. In particular, the Committee is concerned about the number of people who may go on to develop severe and life-limiting, physical, mental health, alcohol or neurological problems. There is still a question mark over whether the Government as a whole fully understands the likely future demands and related costs.
Chairman of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot says, “We, as a Committee, have seen how determined our injured servicemen and women are to achieve the fullest possible recovery from their injuries. They see it as duty to get better and to return to their units if at all possible. And we have been impressed by the brave and skilful personnel, both military and civilian, who are providing the medical care that our Armed Forces need. But we need to have the confidence that such specific treatment, for injuries hardly ever seen in the general NHS experience, will continue long after an individual’s retirement and into old age.”
In addition to providing first class medical treatment and rehabilitation both in theatre and back in the UK, the MoD also provides other support for severely injured personnel in their journey to health and return to duty or to civilian life. It is too soon to say whether the individual Service recovery pathways and the transition protocol with health authorities are working well but they represent steps in the right direction. The Report also notes that the charities and Families Federations are making a significant contribution to the support of injured Armed Forces personnel and veterans and their families but fear that their contribution may be constrained if the level of charitable donations reduces substantially. The Committee urges the charities and the MoD to work even more closely together and explore ways of ensuring that new capital projects provided by charities can be sustained into an era when current levels of donations may no longer be relied upon.

House of Commons Written Answers for Thursday 15th December 2011

Aircraft Carriers

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the completion date for the two aircraft carriers that are currently under construction have changed; and what the causes of any such delay are.

Peter Luff: The currently approved planned in-service dates for HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are quarter four of 2016 and quarter four of 2018 respectively. The completion dates for construction have not changed. However, the Strategic Defence and Security Review called for one operational Queen Elizabeth class carrier to be converted to support the more capable Carrier Variant of the Joint Strike Fighter and we are investigating the optimum solution to meet that requirement. On current plans, we expect to conclude work to enable firm decisions on the optimum conversion solution for the operational carrier in late 2012. Depending on the outcome of that work, the completion date for the construction of the carriers may change. Either way we will have an operational carrier from around 2020.

Military Aircraft

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of upgrading the two purchased F-35B variants to the standards required by the US Marine Corps after the completion of testing.

Peter Luff: The previous Government ordered three F-35B aircraft for test and evaluation purposes. One has been exchanged for a F-35C variant. The mission systems

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