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NHS launches £3m programme to support veterans with mental health needs

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6 March 2018

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NHS England has launched a £3m programme to treat military veterans with mental health issues.

A £3.2m national scheme to treat military veterans suffering mental health issues will be provided by NHS Providers from April.

The new scheme replaces the charity Combat Stress’s six-week intensive treatment programme for veterans suffering medium to severe post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) who are clinically stable.

NHS England has launched a £3m programme to treat military veterans with mental health issues.

A £3.2m national scheme to treat military veterans suffering mental health issues will be provided by NHS Providers from April.

The new scheme replaces the charity Combat Stress’s six-week intensive treatment programme for veterans suffering medium to severe post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) who are clinically stable.

In response to the move, the charity said it was unwise to ‘rely solely on community-based mental health services’ for veterans.

Providing the ‘best care’

NHS England’s Armed Forces and their families clinical reference group chair Dr Jonathan Leach said that ‘the NHS is committed to providing every veteran who needs mental health support with the best care’.

He continued: ‘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 include help for substance misuse, physical health, employment, accommodation, relationships and finances, as well as occupational and trauma focused therapies.

Ensuring ‘right care’

In September 2017, NHS England argued that as the charity’s contract was coming to an end, there was an ‘opportunity to review current provision and determine whether any changes or improvements are required to help ensure the right care and treatment are provided’.

It said: ‘While outcomes for those veterans who have completed the Combat Stress residential treatment programme are generally positive, there are a number of factors that have prevented a larger cohort of veterans with mental health needs from benefitting from the programme.

‘In line with this, findings also showed that people want a more local service with increased capacity that offers a broader range of services that are intensive, proactive and responsive and provide prompt care and treatment that is sensitive to the culture of the armed forces.’

Left ‘without support’

Combat Stress chief executive Sue Freeth said that without NHS funding, some veterans will be ‘left without the support they need’.

She continued: ‘As a country, we must not put all our eggs in one basket by relying solely on community-based mental health services, whilst abandoning support for the residential treatments which are proven to be so effective.

‘This would be a great injustice for the men and women who have so bravely served our country and deserve the very best care and support, regardless of where it is delivered.’

 

 

 

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