Westminster - Questions on Telic Reservist health stats

Commons Written Answers, yesterday 27 Oct 05. Apologies for length but I felt it right to include the notes. Some emphasis by me. HANSARD SOURCE.
Mr. Moore: [Michael Moore, Lib Dem, Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk] To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reservists have been (a) mobilised, (b) killed and (c) decommissioned :roll: due to injury in Iraq in each year since March 2003.

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 24 October 2005]: The number of reservists mobilised to support Operation Telic by year since March 2003 is:
2003 8,690
2004 2,460
2005(4) 1,430

(4) As at 21 October 2005

In the time available it has not been possible to distinguish between those actually serving in Iraq and those supporting Operation Telic in other countries including the UK. In addition, a small number have been mobilised more than once to support the operation. The figures include volunteer, regular and sponsored reservists.

The number of reservists who have died on operations in Iraq by year since March 2003 is:
2003 4
2004 0
2005(5) 1

(5) As at 21 October 2005

No Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marine Reserve or Royal Auxiliary Air Force Reservists have been medically discharged as a result of injuries received in Iraq.

Army information systems do not record where injuries occurred which led to a medical discharge. In order to answer the question a review of individual medical records would have to be undertaken and this could not be completed without incurring disproportionate cost.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what compensation has been paid to reservists injured in Iraq since March 2003; and under which scheme.

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 24 October 2005]: Records are not kept in a way in which common law compensation paid to reservists can be separately identified. Common law compensation including costs of £413,398 has however been paid to service personnel in respect of injuries sustained during Operation Telic since March 2003.

In addition, the Veterans Agency administers two no-fault compensation schemes. The War Pension Scheme (WPS) provided compensation for illness or injury due to service in the armed forces up to 6 April 2005 whereas the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) has been in operation since that date.

Information under the WPS is not available in the form requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. There have been no awards of compensation made to reservists injured in Iraq under the AFCS.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how his Department has monitored the health of reservists in Iraq since March 2003; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 24 October 2005]: The health of reservists serving in Iraq is monitored through the system of routine provision of healthcare that is provided for all members of the armed forces on operations. Under the Reserve Forces Act 1996, the overarching principle of mobilized service is that reservists have the same levels of access to medical and healthcare as regular forces, wherever they are serving on operations overseas.

Our policy is that upon mobilization every reservist is given a full medical and dental examination prior to their acceptance into full-time service. The provision of healthcare continues throughout the period of full-time service through to when they return from operations for demobilization. At this point they receive a further medical examination and information about the availability of post-mobilization physical and mental health support.
Another ministerial answer yesterday revealed that as at 1 Sep 05 some 12,000 members of the Territorial Army (TA) were available to be deployed, representing 34 percent. of the total strength. This figure excludes those who have not completed mandatory trg, are in process of being discharged, are currently mobilised or have exceeded statutory mobilisation limits or are OTC members. HANSARD SOURCE
The Minister also answered a couple of TA/TELIC related questions from Michael Ancram MP (Con). One of these gives the month-by month number of TA voluntarily leaving the service since the start of the Iraq operation. HANSARD SOURCE
Two things occur to me. The first is the bizarre way we approach medical/dental fitness. The lack of effective medical screening for the non-mobilised soldier means that we waste a lot of time and money on soldiers who get thrown back at Chilwell when they get a proper check-up. The difference between the perfunctory "still alive ?" PULHEEMS carried out in five minutes at the TAC and the proper job done at Chilwell is huge. Why not give TA soldiers a proper check-up every year, reduce the burden on mobilisation and remove nasty surprises from the equation ?

Secondly, with approx 12k ready to go the notes give a further 8.1k as trained to go but unable due to previous mobilisation - so that's approx 20K trained, which is around half of the establishment, over half of the actual. Given the time taken to train and lousy retention of people after their first engagement this feels about right. It'd be nice to split the figures by Corps (ahoy old gits ?) and teeth arms (mostly recruits ?).

Personally I'd like to see leaving figures categorised by years served - ie how many reengage once, twice etc .


Book Reviewer
As usual, Hackle has found some interesting stuff. I find this part of the answer:

"Army information systems do not record where injuries occurred which led to a medical discharge." to be entirely unbelieveable. If I were an MP, I would probe a lot deeper into this.

Also, they have not asked the fundamnetal question - to which we sadly already know the answer: "What medical support is available to discharged TA personnel, who were mobilised, from the Army Medical Services?" The answer is Zero. Nothing. Zilch. You are out of sight, out of mind, and joining the queue at your local GP like everyone else.

Lastly, the second Hansard answer shows the number of TA as Planned v Actual strengths. These give the following as a percentage:

1998 95.3
1999 86.2
2000 99.9 (Big cut in numbers, so many transferred, and filled gaps in other Units)
2001 95.8
2002 93.7
2003 92.5
2004 89.4
2005 86.9

I sense a trend there.... What can we do? I know, let's have more Annual Camps that p*iss the blokes off, and let's spend all our training time getting ready for another deployment next year - that's the thing to keep the Troops in! Not.
I know some more good retention measures ....

Tell all potential recruits they will almost certainly be mobilised for a very unpopular war;
Make sure your employer knows all about your liabilities when joining but offer no protection whatsoever to discrimination in hiring staff for being in the TA;
Get regular soldiers to write your retention policies.
Army information systems do not record where injuries occurred which led to a medical discharge.
I don't believe this either; it is reminiscent of MoD's previous splutterings about not knowing how injuries were caused. Of course stats are kept on the causes of medical discharge.

As for OldSnowy's question regarding treatment following discharge, it is true that no support is provided by Defence Medical Services post discharge. There is a persistent myth that ex-servicemen are entitled to treatment at MDHUs - it isn't true. Once you leave, it's the joys of the NHS for all. However, there are a couple of points:

1. War Pensioners are entitled to priority treatment under the NHS (provided it is for the condition which led to the WP). Sadly, many NHS Trusts need to be reminded of this.
2. TA pers who have been wounded may be demobilised but should not be discharged until their treatment is complete.

That said, I agree that the medical and welfare support for both regulars and reservists could be vastly improved. The initial stages of Fd Hosp, Aeromed and RCDM seem to work - the problems start after the patient leaves hospital.
hackle said:
The Minister also answered a couple of TA/TELIC related questions from Michael Ancram MP (Con). One of these gives the month-by month number of TA voluntarily leaving the service since the start of the Iraq operation. HANSARD SOURCE
From which report we can see that in the last 12 months there have been 6070 leavers. Unless someone can tell me otherwise there are not anywhere remotely close to that number of places planned on Recruits courses for the next 12 months so two questions:

1. How are we going to replace those who have left in last 12 months?

2. How are we going to bridge the gap that will still exist between planned and actual?
My perception of the system is that the feedback loops to address such problems don't really exist. I don't see any individual responsible for the entireity of the system. For instance, your inf Bn CO turns up and finds an undermanned unit. So he launches a recruitment drive and can happily report up the chain that he expects to get more bodies in. He also manages to mobilise enough bodies to meet demand. Again, positive noises up the chain. Keep this up for a couple of years and hand over to the next CO. Everyone's happy.

The recruitment drive may be doomed - but how does he know ? He's never recruited TA before. And if he does get bodies in they may leave before a CMS slot opens up - but he has no control over that. And the general high level of nause in the mobilisation process, unpopularity of Iraq etc may hit his retention hard. But how can he predict ? it's all new to him.

Bad news only flows up the chain if the wheels fall off - ie he can't support mobilisation requirements. The process by which the wheels fall off is quite obvious - or would be if someone was watching it.

Edited to add:

And using the example above, the OC of the units ATR's providing CMS report that everything's fine, courses full and so on. The lack of capacity in the system is not the responsibility of an OC of part of that system.
to look through the rose tinted bottom of my half full glass, the situation may improve slightly following FA(R)S - Future army (reserve) structures - with the appointment of Unit Recruiting, Retention, Employer Sp, Welfare Officers in every TA Unit HQ as NRPS posts. (edited to clarify that those mass of titles all belong to 1 post per unit...)
If they work properly these posts will provide a long term postholder capable of seeing beyond the 2 year short term which is a problem in the current system.

That is proivided you can entice someone of a suitable calibre to take on a job which they will have to reapply for every 5 years :roll:
I think that is unlikely given that they are being employed to advise rather than do.

Something I can't get my civvy head around:

If recruitment is down despite the fortunes that are being spent on marketing, surely we need more recruiters, not more marketeers?

Imagine a civilian sales organisation (not that dissimilar to Army Recruitment) discovered that its sales were down. How long would you give the business if it decided the way out of the mess was to reduce the number of salesmen (FAS/FIS) but add in another tier of management to help the board of directors understand why there was a sales problem?

And look at the multi-tasking of that new management tier - as cynical as I may be, it still looks like a perfect recipe for creative avoidance: don't want to recruit, go and do some welfare, don't know how to retain, go and visit an employer.


Book Reviewer
Bringing this down to earth, we have problems with the Training, rather than Recruiting. How do you persuade keen young NCOs to do a 6 or 12 month stint in Recruit Training, when there is not really any benefit to them in doing so?

And before anyone says 'make them do it or no promotion' or some such nonsense - the TA doesn't work like that. They can just stop turning up, or do less time than they did before (but still more than the minimum required).

Back to the original point of the thread, though - this sort of info gets out VERY quickly to the TA 'Audience'. There is 'talk' of pensions, dental treatment, improved terms and conditions, etc. We are fed up with talk. Decreasing numbers are the reality NOW.

DO SOMETHING SOON or there won't be enough TA - properly trained and keen to go - to mobilise next year.

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