Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Peer calls for more mental health care for armed forces

A peer has called for more NHS resources to treat long-term mental health issues for armed forces personnel.

The Ulster Unionist peer Lord Empey made the the plea during oral questions in the House of Lords on 19 December 2012.

Lord Empey asked the government how many members of the armed forces had sustained "life-changing injuries" as a result of their time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Responding to the question, Defence Spokesman Lord Astor of Hever told peers that between 2003 and 2009, 222 UK casualties in Iraq had "serious or very serious" injuries.

Lord Astor added that the figure for Afghanistan between 2001 and November 2012 was 591.

But Lord Empey told peers the numbers did not take into account mental illness and called on the government to do more to help troops needing long-term care.

He asked: "What strategy is in place to ensure the NHS is adequately resourced, not only financially but professionally with the specific knowledge that is required to treat these casualties?"

Lord Astor said his department took the issue "very seriously" and said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) were working closely with the NHS to ensure suitable treatment was provided "throughout their lives".

Peers also asked questions on proposals for a EU-US free trade agreement, goals of the World Sepsis Declaration and the impact of peer-to-peer lending on major financial institutions.

At the end of oral questions, government Chief Whip Baroness Anelay announced that the cancelled House of Lords debate on the Leveson report will now take place on Friday 11 January 2013.

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