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Nurse receives award for helping combat veterans

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A mental health nurse in Northumberland has been awarded a prestigious prize for his innovative approach to supporting ex-service personnel with substance misuse issues.

Dave Marsden, who works for veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, was presented with the 2016 Paolo Pertica Award at last month’s International City Health Conference at London’s Guildhall.

“Dave has been instrumental in establishing and embedding new referral pathways”

Kevin Molloy

Since 2014, the veterans drug and alcohol support nurse has been seconded to Combat Stress to pilot the charity’s substance misuse case management service (SMCMS) in Northumberland.

The service enables and encourages veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance misuse issues to access support.

However, Combat Stress said it soon became clear that many veterans were becoming lost in the criminal justice system due to undiagnosed PTSD, complicated by substance misuse, and their drug or alcohol dependency was preventing them from accessing quality mental health treatment.

It also highlighted that veterans are the single largest professional group involved with the criminal justice system.

To ease the problem, Mr Marsden subsequently developed a project targeting veterans who may have been misdiagnosed, or undiagnosed, to ensure they received the right treatment or diagnosis.

Combat Stress

Nurse receives award for helping combat veterans

He was presented with the 2016 Paolo Pertica award for his innovative approach in developing pathways to treatment that would lead to a swifter diagnosis of PTSD, allowing a more effective multi-agency response for those in need of help.

Mr Marsden said: “I am very pleased and proud to accept this award. I see it as a reflection of the excellent work done by the SMCMS team as a whole.”

Kevin Molloy, manager of the SMCMS, said: “Dave has been instrumental in establishing and embedding new referral pathways with the probation service, prison service and police force, as well as GPs and hospitals, to enable veterans to get the support they need.

“This award is testament to the success he has had in Northumberland,” he added.

The Paolo Pertica award recognises innovation and outstanding contributions to public health interventions within the criminal justice system, in relation to drug and alcohol users, which can be shown to have a positive impact for both individual offenders and the community in general.

The award is open to individuals and organisations throughout the world engaged in work directly with offenders, policy development work, training or research.

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