David Ruffley MP questions Defence Minister

Monday, 8 November, 2010

Today, David Ruffley MP challenged Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Defence, about mental health provision for the service personnel in his constituency:

Mr David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds) (Con): I have the privilege of representing RAF Honington, which is home to the RAF Regiment, and Wattisham, which is home to the Army Air Corps. Will my right hon. Friend speak to the Secretary of State for Health to ensure that more mental health provision is directed to areas of this country where the highest proportion of servicemen and women and their families live?

Dr Fox: As part of the comprehensive spending review, we had a financial deal with the NHS to transfer NHS funding to the MOD for precisely that reason. As I told the House earlier, one of the ways that we must measure how civilised and decent a society we are is how we deal with those with mental illness, whether in the armed forces or outside. As a society, we have a lot to do to remove some of the taboos surrounding that, but if we can make a start in the armed forces, that would be great. Indeed, were we to get to the end of this Parliament and those in the NHS were crying out for the same quality of mental health care as those in the armed forces, that would indeed be a triumph.