Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
QUESTION NO: 464
To ask the Minister for Defence his plans to carry out a full health audit of serving members of the Air Corps. [38582/20]
Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
A comprehensive range of primary and secondary medical services are provided to all members of the Permanent Defence Force. This is to ensure that personnel are medically fit to undertake the duties assigned to them, and to treat any medical conditions arising which would inhibit their capacity to undertake such duties. This includes an annual medical examination which comprises a review of the individual’s medical history and a full physical examination.
Air Corps personnel have been badly served by the Medical Corps
- Treated chemically injured personnel as malingerers.
- Refused to refer injured personnel for specialised consultant care for complex illnesses.
- Used the medical boarding system as a “HR resolution tool” to dismiss chemically injured personnel.
- Disallowed the testimony of expert medical consultants at such medical boards used to dismiss even whistleblowers.
- Admonished chemically injured personnel for using civilian doctors even sending military ambulances to retrieve sick personnel from their homes.
- Attempted to access medical records of chemically injured personnel in civilian hospitals without their consent.
It must be said that the negligence of engineering officers within the Formation Safety Office hindered the work of doctors on the ground at Baldonnel and wider afield.
If the FSO had carried out chemical risk assessments, conducted with “proper vigor” by competent & trained personnel, they would in many instances have required risk specific health surveillance. Risks specific health surveillance would have given medics a “heads up” regarding symptoms of “at risk” illnesses. This should in turn have lead to annual medical assessments more tailored to these risks than the “standard” annual medical that all members of the Defence Forces undergo.