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Improved prosthetics services for military veterans

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Prime Minister David Cameron announced the Government is investing up to £15 million to improve prosthetics services for military veterans

Prime Minister David Cameron today announced that the Government is investing up to £15 million to improve prosthetics services for military veterans who have lost a limb due to activities while serving their country.

In January, the Government asked Dr Andrew Murrison MP to lead a review into the prosthetic services currently offered to veterans by the NHS. This followed concern by service charities and some serving personnel who have been seriously injured that the NHS may not be equipped to provide prosthetic services to the same standard as the Defence Medical Service at Headley Court.

In response to Dr Murrison’s key recommendation, the Department of Health will now introduce a number of national specialist prosthetic and rehabilitation centres for amputee veterans across the country, working with charities such as Help for Heroes andBLESMA (The British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association) as well as specialists within the NHS.

Dr Andrew Murrison MP, said:
“I am delighted my report has been accepted by the Government.

The rapid roll out of the recommendations I made last year on veterans’ mental health has been impressive and I look forward to these latest proposals being progressed with the same enthusiasm. I hope the action points I have offered honour the military covenant and benefit military amputees but I have been clear that they should also help to improve the service available to all limb centre users.”

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, said:

“We will use the opportunity provided by Dr Murrison’s report to extend the modern, high quality treatment currently provided by Headley Court not only to veterans but also to NHS patients, for whom it is clinically appropriate.”

Dr Murrison made the following recommendations:

  • Ministers should take appropriate powers to provide for national commissioning of specialist prosthetic and rehabilitation services for amputee veterans, through a small number of multi-disciplinary centres in England, adequately resourced and determined through a tendering exercise.
  • Equivalent and complementary provision should be agreed with the devolved administrations.
  • Veterans should be able to access mainstream NHS provision through a DSC of their choice.
  • Each specialist centre should have provision for a BLESMA support officer.
  • The trial of the MoD Seriously Injured Leavers’ Protocol and the MoD/NHS Transition Protocol have the potential to improve handover from Headley Court and Personnel Recovery Units to DSCs and should be expedited with attention given to a refined system of case management including a comprehensive statement of needs and prescription on transition to the NHS.
  • The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) should be tasked with the production of national guidelines for prosthetic prescription and rehabilitation for all amputees including provision for military amputees.
  • A prospective study of amputee veterans’ long-term outcomes should be commissioned.
  • The review supports the relocation of the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre from Headley Court to form part of a Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre. Closer integrated with the NHS holds considerable potential for Service attributable amputees at all stages of the patient pathway as well as the wider civilian amputee community.
  • There should be a programme of military/civilian exchange and capacity building for healthcare professionals to grow the specialist prosthetic and rehabilitation network, rapidly.
  • The NHS Healthcare Travel Cost Scheme currently available to War Pensioners to be extended to beneficiaries of the Armed Forces Compensation scheme for the purpose of attending DSCs and accessing associated healthcare.
  • Case management to ensure that, as far as reasonably practicable, amputee veterans abroad are able to access an equivalent standard of prosthetics and rehabilitation as they would have enjoyed had they remained in the UK.
  • An audit of the new funding arrangements should be undertaken after five years.

Read the press release