A £75,000 fund has been awarded by NHS England to charity The Forces in Mind trust to carry out a review of the mental health needs of people who have served in the armed forces.
The review will focus on understanding the health needs of veterans, with a particular focus on mental health and the interactions between mental health and other health needs. It will also look at the gaps in the current health needs assessment evidence base and how these might be addressed at local and national levels; inform NHS England's commissioning intentions.
Kate Davies, head of armed forces commissioning at NHS England said: 'There have been significant improvements in access to mental health services for veterans and further improvements are planned for the general population through the Parity of Esteem programme and the Crisis Concordat but it is clearly necessary to ensure that NHS England and local commissioners are well informed and have a firm evidence-base for reviewing the range of services offered, which is where this review of health needs assessments will bring the greatest benefit.'
Although some local authorities and CCGs have previously completed military veterans' health needs assessments, a recent review by Lord Ashcroft highlighted a lack of consistency in these assessments. The review will assess what is currently known to develop a better understanding of the health needs of serving military personnel, and how this impacts on their transition to civilian life.
Chief executive of the Forces in Mind Trust Ray Lock, said: 'An assessment of this type will enable FiMT to build its evidence base and, for the first time, the military and healthcare communities will have a real insight into veterans' health needs. Mental health issues in particular are one of the key challenges which ex-Service personnel can face when coming out of the armed forces and can make transition to civilian life extremely difficult; having an understanding of other health needs which can stem from these issues will expose further areas for research and evidence gathering.'