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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Dr. Lewis Moonie): Building on the extensive measures put in place to protect the health of our personnel deployed to the Gulf, the Ministry of Defence has decided to conduct research into the physical and psychological health of those who have been involved in the conflict. It is too soon to know whether health concerns will emerge, but we are of course conscious of the range of physical and psychological health concerns reported by veterans of the 199091 Gulf conflict. If health concerns arise out of the current operations, we will want to identify and investigate them as soon as possible.
We therefore propose to put in place the following measures once the units currently deployed have returned from theatre, as I promised in my answer to the Member for North Cornwall (Mr Tyler) of 14 April 2003 (Official Report, column 570W).
Once personnel have returned to duty and resumed their normal lives, researchers will issue questionnaires to a large representative cohort of those who were deployed seeking data on health status and exposures. As well as regular and reservist Service personnel and MOD civilians, other groups who deployed with them such as representatives of voluntary aid societies, contractors' personnel and embedded journalists will be invited to form part of the
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This will be a longitudinal study. Having identified the members of the cohorts we will aim to keep in touch with them wherever possible, so as to be able to carry out further surveys in future and monitor any changes.
Depending on the outcome of this work, clinical investigations within the cohorts will be carried out as necessary to provide objective assessments of self-reported ill health. This work too will be carried out by King's.
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as appropriate. This facility will be made available to attached voluntary aid society personnel, contractors and embedded journalists on a repayment basis.
We currently monitor the mortality of veterans of the 199091 Gulf conflict compared with a control group and publish figures every six months. The same will be carried out for those who have taken part in the current operation.