As the country paid tribute to its troops on Remembrance Sunday, Health Minister Dan Poulter called for veterans to come forward and get services to help improve their physical and mental health.
The Department of Health has £5 million available to spend on new prosthetics centres for veterans in 2013. The money is part of a £22 million package to support veterans’ physical and mental health from 2010 to 2015.
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.
So far this year, 32 veterans applied to get high specification prosthetic equipment, such as computer controlled knee units and specialist feet.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “Service men and women who have been injured in the service of their country deserve the best possible care from the NHS – these are people who have made an astonishing contribution to our country and made great sacrifices.
“That’s why we are making up to £15 million available until 2015 to help these men and women.
“From April 2013 all prosthetics services will be planned and paid for centrally, replacing the patchwork of arrangements that are in place at the moment.
“This will improve services for veterans and, in the longer term, for everyone.”
The government is also committed to improving the mental health support available for veterans. £1.8 million will continue to be invested every year over the next three years to improve mental health services for veterans and their families.
Calls to the Combat Stress helpline peak around military anniversaries, like Remembrance Sunday. The helpline received 432 calls around the 11th November last year, a 14 percent increase, and the same increase is predicted this year.
Over the past 18 months, the Department has funded the Big White Wall – an online mental health service supporting veterans by putting them directly in touch with mental health professionals. Over that short period, 2,400 service personnel, veterans and their families have signed up to the service.
Dr Dan Poulter added: “The nation’s mental health and well-being is a priority for us and this includes that of our ex-military personnel.
“We are working closely with the Ministry of Defence, NHS, and the third sector to develop mental health services for veterans and their families. There are now over 50 veterans’ mental health professionals working countrywide, with more expected later on this year.”
To apply for funding, veterans should contact their local GP or NHS disablement service.