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Improved care announced for war veterans

New deal will cover physical and mental health needs

OnMedica Staff

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

A customised health care plan for war veterans has been announced for armed forces personnel with the most serious injuries.

Health Minister Mike O'Brien and Veterans Minister Kevan Jones jointly set-out the new arrangements which include the guarantee that all those seriously injured will receive an early and comprehensive assessment of their long term needs before they leave the Armed Forces.

The package includes grant funding of £140,000 with service charity Combat Stress (that they are matching) to work directly with mental health trusts to ensure that the services they provide are accessible to and appropriate for military veterans; closer NHS links with a full range of third sector partners and charities with extensive experience of working with veterans, an entitlement for all veterans who have lost a limb whilst serving in the Armed Forces to receive, where clinically appropriate, the same standard of prosthetic limb from the NHS that they received or would receive today from Defence Medical Services and improved transfer of medical records to the NHS on retirement from the armed forces.

The ministers also spoke of greater "GP awareness" of veteran status of new patients "to ensure veterans receive their entitlement to priority treatment for any injuries or illness attributable to their time serving in the Armed Forces".   
Speaking on a visit to Combat Stress in Surrey, Health Minister Mike O'Brien said: "Those who have sacrificed so much for their country deserve the very best health care. That is why we are working with the MOD, the NHS and service charities to make these improvements. The package of measures set out today builds on what the NHS already provides to ensure that veterans’ health needs are better met."

Combat Stress Chief Executive, David Hill, said: "We are very pleased that the expertise, and therefore the important role, of Combat Stress has been formally recognised by both Government Departments – and that there is now a commitment from all three organisations to work collaboratively to ensure better identification of Veterans with mental health problems and improved access to care and treatment.

"The agreement also acknowledges the role both statutory and voluntary bodies play in working together."

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