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Charity partnership to improve mental health care for traumatised soldiers


Staff from the Combat Stress charity are to work in NHS mental health trusts in a bid to improve treatment offered to traumatised soldiers, the government is expected to announce.

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The plight of injured and shell-shocked servicemen and women coming home from war zones has been highlighted in recent times, particularly as the conflict in Afghanistan has grown more bloody.

Last year Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross, said it was “disgraceful” that military personnel were forced to wait for mental healthcare on the NHS.

And in August it was reported that specialist centres for traumatised members of the armed forces were under threat because government funding was running low.

Under the new scheme, staff from Combat Stress will be brought in to work with NHS mental health teams, initially in areas where there are high numbers of veterans.

Health minister Mike O’Brien and veterans minister Kevan Jones are expected to unveil various plans to give better provision to the rising number of military personnel needing support.

The plans, which will be announced in a visit to Combat Stress, include commitments on providing prosthetic limbs and care planning before servicemen leave the armed forces.

Mr O’Brien said: “Those who have given so much for their country deserve the very best healthcare.

“These improvements build on the high quality mental health services that the NHS already provides and ensure that their specific health needs are better met.

“This will ensure ex-servicemen and women get the help they need from the NHS and put them in touch with local support groups.”


Readers' comments (3)

  • As an ex-serving member of the armed forces who has served in combat and now training to be a mental health nurse, I find it absolutely disgraceful that the government once again consider mental health to be the Cinderella service within healthcare.
    My husband is still serving after 24 years and should he ever need the help for combat stress then I believe he should receive it as he would for any physical injury.

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  • Hamish Cole

    I totally agree with Susan's previous entry. As an ex regular and now a serving TA Officer in a Field Mental Health team I am concerned that the NHS are blindly blundering on ignoring the fact that at some point in the not too distant future the floodgates are going to open and a deluge of service personel are going to come through. I have in my own NHS Trust approached senior management and expressed my concerns and to establish what plans they have to deal with this, but nothing positive was forthcoming.Surely the time is now to put plans in place and hope that they never have to be used.

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  • Although I agree that the level of support within the NHS is poor and that waiting times are extremely and unacceptably high, the need for mental health treatment should be sought from the MOD in the 1st instance for returning soldiers and not pass them onto the NHS, by way of reducing thier mental health figures. I was a member of the TA for nearly 10 years and for 5 of those took on regular contracts. I suffered mental health problems due to active service in Iraq, My problems were impacted by the army and then i was passed onto the NHS to pick up the pieces. As if mental health conditions weren't bad enough, you are being treated by a service who are grossly under pressure and ill equiped to deal with traumatised soldiers. Combat stress would be of use to the NHS but i feel better precautions should be adopted by the MOD and not leave the blame with the NHS mental health services.

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