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The NHS is set to benefit from a charitable grant of £75,000 to review the mental health needs of military veterans. The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), has awarded the money to fund a national review of Health Needs Assessments for veterans’ mental health and other health related needs.
The review aims to:
- understand the health needs of veterans, with a particular focus on mental health and the interactions between mental health and other health needs;
- understand 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; and
- guide the development of FiMT’s mental health strategy and charitable grant donations programme.
The work, will be a collaboration between NHS England and Community Innovations Enterprise (CIE).
Carrying out a systematic review of the health issues facing veterans will give the NHS the information it needs to ensure valuable resources are spent wisely and the right services are provided in the right place;for example, a needs assessment can look at the pattern of illness that affects veterans and whether patterns of illness vary between veterans and the general population.
Although a number of local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), have previously completed military veterans’ health needs assessments, Lord Ashcroft’s Veterans’ Transition Review* highlighted a lack of consistency and completeness of these assessments. This new review will be a quantitative and qualitative view of what is currently known to develop a greater level of understanding of the health needs of serving Armed Forces personnel, and how this impacts on their transition to civilian life.
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.
“It is vital that we use our dedicated funds to the best effect, and that we take into account the views of users of the service. This survey will support GP led Clinical Commissioning Groups and the national team to respond to evidence and the experience of patients and carers.”
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.”