Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Monday, 11 January 2010

Plans to improve military veterans' NHS care unveiled

A soldier in Afghanistan
The measures include plans to address the mental health of veterans

Plans to improve NHS care for military veterans, including measures to strengthen mental health services, have been unveiled by the government.

Under the proposals, personnel with the most serious injuries will have a customised health care plan drawn up before they leave the armed forces.

And GPs will be made aware of their patients' military service.

Health Minister Mike O'Brien told MPs those needing continuing support would receive "high quality care for life".

And this care would be based on regular reviews overseen by an NHS case manager.

Mental health concerns

In a statement to Parliament, he said all veterans who had lost a limb in service would receive the same modern standard of prosthetic replacement from the NHS as would be available from Defence Medical Services.

Mr O'Brien told MPs he would "guarantee that all those seriously injured will receive an early and comprehensive assessment of their long-term needs".

The minister said the Department of Health was also "responding to concerns expressed about the impact of recent and current deployments on the mental health of those in and those leaving the armed forces".

Meanwhile, the Combat Stress charity is to be given grant funding of £140,000, which it will match, to work with mental health trusts to ensure services are appropriate for military veterans.

'Lifelong guarantee'

MPs were told all mental health services would be expected to make special provision for veterans from 2011/12.

In a written statement, Mr O'Brien said his department would work with the Ministry of Defence to improve the transfer of veterans' medical records to the NHS after they leave the military.

He said this would "facilitate GP awareness of the 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".

The measures are also intended to make it easier for former service personnel to find jobs in the NHS.

Veterans Minister Kevan Jones said the government had made a "lifelong guarantee to the brave men and women who have served their country".

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