Hundreds of military veterans are set to benefit from a nationwide scheme to tackle the most complex mental health needs of ex-armed forces personnel, launched today (Sunday) by NHS England.
The Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service has been designed after veterans and their families from across England were invited to tell the NHS how services would work best for them.
Backed by £3.2m of funding a year, the new service aims to help 450 veterans every year and will include help for substance misuse, physical health, employment, accommodation, relationships and finances, as well as occupational and trauma focused therapies.
Crucially the national service will focus on helping veterans closer to home, rather than requiring them to travel to centres for weeks at a time. There will be opportunities for families and carers to help plan treatment for their loved ones and they will even be supported to access care and treatment for themselves if required.
Dr. Jonathan Leach, Chair of NHS England’s Armed Forces and their Families Clinical Reference Group said: “The NHS is committed to providing every veteran who needs mental health support with the best care, which is why we have already set up a dedicated new service based directly on feedback from veterans themselves.
“To build on this, we are investing £3.2m in a national complex treatment service which will treat more patients, over a longer period and closer to home as veterans have told us they prefer.”
The service will be run by NHS providers, working closely with armed forces groups and charities, including Combat Stress.
While waiting times for veterans are excellent, with 88.3% waiting less than six weeks, NHS England is determined to continually improve care. The new service comes in the wake of new services that are already having an impact for those who have served their country on military operations around the world.
Last year NHS England also launched the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service which meant, for the first time, armed forces personnel approaching discharge can now consistently benefit from receiving NHS care and treatment for mental health difficulties before their discharge date and continue after leaving the armed forces.