Military welfare charities have attacked the Ministry of Defence for failing to provide details of injuries to servicemen and women in Iraq, and are accusing the Government of hampering their work.
The MoD insists patient confidentiality has to be paramount, and claims releasing the statistics can harm the health of casualties. But James Bond, an expert on military compensation claims at the Royal British Legion, the UK's largest ex-services welfare agency, said this was an excuse. Its real concern was that releasing figures on the cause and type of injury or illness that British troops were suffering might affect morale.
Commodore Toby Elliott, chief executive of Combat Stress, the main charity for mentally ill ex-servicemen, said the MoD's arguments for not releasing detailed casualty figures were "bullshit", adding: "All of us involved in the care of servicemen and women who end up as casualties need to know the statistics, so we can ensure we have the right resources."
Mr Bond said the armed forces in Iraq and at bases in the UK would have very detailed figures on the type and severity of troops' injuries and illnesses. "Those figures are essential when planning how to medically evacuate people ... What it means is that they're actually not bothered about learning lessons from the injury statistics."
Commodore Elliott challenged the MoD's claim that less than 1 per cent of troops in Iraq were suffering mental health problems as "premature and inaccurate".