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Last Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008, 12:08 GMT
MPs criticise military healthcare
There is insufficient mental health provision for troops, says the report
The Scottish Government has come under fire from MPs for failing to give adequate healthcare to military personnel and their families.

The Commons defence select committee accused the government of "confusion, incomprehension and ignorance".

In a report, it said the mental health of veterans and the needs of families returning from overseas postings were being failed.

Ministers rejected the claims and said changes had already been made.

The committee's report called for improved co-operation with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

It claimed there were insufficient mental health provisions for troops who return from combat and said the MoD should be doing more to support service personnel and their families.

'Deeply concerned'

But the defence committee's strongest criticism is reserved for the Scottish Government which it accuses of taking a "laissez faire" approach to the issues confronting service personnel who require NHS treatment or help.

The MPs, who travelled to Scotland to take evidence from health officials, said their visit had left them "deeply concerned".

"It is unreasonable to expect any administration, whether in Whitehall or one of the devolved assemblies, to micro-manage the agencies which execute its policies," they said.

I don't agree entirely with all of the conclusions of the defence committee report.
Nicola Sturgeon
Health Secretary

"But depending on guidance and taking a laissez faire approach to making sure that such guidance is implemented is totally inadequate, and reinforces our view that the issues confronting service personnel and their families are not sufficiently high up the list of priorities for the Scottish Executive," they added.

The MPs maintain the relationship between the MoD and the administration is hindered by inadequate co-operation and communication which needs to improve.

The Scottish Government said it was considering the report, but pointed out that there was no mention of its recent decision to extend priority treatment to all armed forces veterans.

Not accurate

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "I don't agree entirely with all of the conclusions of the defence committee report.

"I don't think it represents a fair and accurate balance of all of the work that is ongoing in Scotland, for example the work to extend priority treatment, to improve mental health services and the funding of combat stress.

"People who have or are sacrificing for their country do deserve high quality health care when they need it and that's what the NHS in Scotland is focused on providing."

Ms Sturgeon also said that while she could not speak for the previous administration, the government had a good relationship with the MoD and was determined for it to improve even further.

"We haven't had hitherto any complaints either from the MoD or from NHS boards about the quality of treatment provided," she said.

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