The announcement comes as The Department of Health announces that £5m is to be made available to spend on new prosthetics centres for veterans in 2013. The money is part of a £22m package to support veterans’ physical and mental health from 2010 to 2015.
So far this year, 32 veterans applied to get high specification prosthetic equipment, such as computer controlled knee units and specialist feet. The Department of Health has committed to funding clinically appropriate prosthetics for any veteran in England who has lost a limb in the service of their country. There are currently an estimated 1,335 veteran amputees in the UK, and the majority live in England.
The Government wants to raise awareness of this funding so that all veterans who have lost a limb in the service of their country can benefit from the extraordinary, life-changing work the NHS can do with prosthetics.
Separately, moving the Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme (VRMHP) service to Chilwell brings closer links with the military mental health team based at there and the co-location with the Reserves Mental Health Programme brings shared expertise.
The relocation makes access to this service easier and more convenient to the majority of service users.
Bringing the veterans service to Chilwell will ensure the mental health service is maintained and integrated within a military mental health environment and provides for the assessing clinician an appropriate support team. By providing the service in a familiar military setting it will encourage those in need to be less deterred by issues of stigma.
The standard of service will remain the same; users will receive a full psychiatric assessment completed by a consultant psychiatrist, this assessment will then be forwarded to the service user’s GP and local clinical team with advice on further treatment and care. Referral to the VRMHP should be from the GP or the veteran’s clinical team, however self referrals will be accepted.
Surgeon Captain John Sharpley, Defence Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry, said:
Bringing the Veterans’ mental health programme (formerly known as the MAP) to Chilwell and co-locating it with the Reserves Mental Health Programme will provide greater access to military mental health facilities with the Department of Community Mental Health based there.
The Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme will have better access to a consultant psychiatrist, who is supported by military mental health nurses. Veterans will continue to be seen by a consultant psychiatrist who will undertake a full mental health assessment and pass on recommendations to the veteran’s GP. The majority of veterans using the Service come from the North and Midlands making Chilwell an ideal location.
The MAP (Medical Assessment Programme as it was known), was a programme set up in the 1990s to investigate both physical and psychological symptoms manifesting in veterans of the first Gulf Conflict. The majority of cases seen by the MAP were mental health related and the service evolved into a mental health assessment programme.
The VRMHP is solely mental health focussed but, like the MAP, is open to UK military veterans that have left regular military service since 1982 and are experiencing mental health challenges as a result of Service. Reservists mobilised since 2003 also remain eligible to seek assistance from the VRMHP.
The new VRMHP will continue to provide service users travelling expenses and where required overnight accommodation close to DCMH Chilwell.