CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

HEALTH – ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY – 9 May 2019

Dr Julian Lewis: May I add one more category to those listed by my right hon. Friend [Sir John Hayes] and the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant)? I am talking about Service personnel who were blown up in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of whom, although apparently uninjured as a result of the great advances in vehicle technology that enabled them to survive improvised explosive devices, are believed to have been misdiagnosed with post-traumatic stress injury, when in reality they are suffering from mild traumatic brain injury. I believe that only two scanners in the whole country are capable of identifying mild TBI. There is not yet an adequate programme to make sure that the condition is discovered before irreparable damage is done.

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Dr  Lewis: May I add briefly to that catalogue of virtues the fact that Headway has been reaching out to parliamentarians like ourselves? The reason I am here for this debate is that Jo Hillier of Southampton Headway got in touch with me and asked me to be here. That is why I am learning so much more about this condition than I would otherwise have had the possibility of knowing.

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[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Seema Kennedy): ... I want briefly to touch on the point raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis), the Chair of the Defence Select Committee. The veterans trauma network delivers comprehensive medical care to veterans, including those suffering from brain tumours, and, as he knows, the Prime Minister opened the successor Defence centre to Headley Court last year. We do not recognise his statistic that there are only two machines, but I will take that away and report back to him.]

Dr Lewis: I was not talking about tumours; I was talking about traumatic injury caused in explosions. My understanding is that only Nottingham and Aston Universities have the special types of scanners that can detect that particular injury. Will the Minister check that point and consider a screening programme for such people?

[Seema Kennedy: I will happily take away that challenge from my right hon. Friend and will write to him.]