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£2 million for veterans' mental health services

  • Last modified date:
    6 April 2010
Mike O'Brien

£2m of new funding to help improve mental health services and access to the best possible NHS services in England for Armed Forces veterans was announced by Health Minister Mike O’Brien today.

The investment forms part of the Department of Health’s ongoing commitment to provide high quality, tailored, health and social care to Armed Forces veterans and those preparing to make the transition from military to civilian life, working closely with voluntary sector partners. The £2 million will fund: 

  • Up to 15 Community Psychiatric Nurses (or Veterans Therapists) to work in Mental Health Trusts alongside specialist Combat Stress teams to forge better links between the two and enabling more veterans to be treated closer to their homes and families
  • Combat Stress to join forces with The Mental Health Helplines Partnership – so that their helpline can be accessed 24 hours a day by veterans needing advice and support
  • Improved education and training for GPs to help them identify veterans suffering from mental health problems, providing them with the information and skills to ensure that veterans get the best possible treatment
  • Working with Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion to ensure veterans themselves are aware of the range of support available to them, building upon our existing efforts to promote services available from the NHS and from the service charities and organisations.

Health Minister Mike O'Brien said:

'The brave men and women who have given so much for their country deserve the very best health care. That is why we are already working closely with service charities and the Ministry of Defence to ensure that veterans' health needs are better met. The NHS’s high quality mental health services are the best place to ensure veterans get the treatment they need. 

'This new funding will mean even further improvements for veterans and will ensure they can access mental health services more easily, whenever they need them.'

Wing Commander David Hill, Chief Executive of Combat Stress said:

'We know from over 90 year’s experience that Veterans want to be treated  alongside their peers and by organisations that understand Service-related  psychological injury.  Today’s announcement is a very welcome further step to ensuring that Veterans have improved access to a choice of appropriate services, with the long term aim of reducing the average 14 year timelag that it takes for Veterans to seek help for psychological illness after leaving the Armed Forces.'

Today’s announcement builds on a package of measures set out in January this year together with the MOD, to improve support for the increased number of Armed Forces personnel who have received serious injuries such as loss of limb or brain injuries whilst on active service. This included new arrangements to ensure that the transition into NHS care for seriously injured personnel and for all veterans is as smooth as possible and that they receive an early and comprehensive assessment of their current as well as ongoing needs.

That package also set out that all veterans will be entitled, where clinically appropriate, to the same level of prosthesis from the NHS as they would have got from Defence Medical Services.

Last week we announced that we are making up to £10m of funding over five years available for research into the affects of acute trauma and physical or psychological rehabilitation.

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