More than 1,100 veterans treated by Wales’ dedicated NHS service
More than 1,100 veterans have received care from Veterans NHS Wales - the only national service for veterans of its kind in the UK - since it was set up in 2010, a new report published recently revealed.
Veterans NHS Wales, which was previously known as the all-Wales Veterans Health and Wellbeing Service, is the UK’s only national, dedicated service to support the emotional and mental health needs of armed forces’ veterans by providing dedicated veteran’s therapists in each health board.
In 2010, the service was expanded to cover the whole of Wales with the Welsh Government investing £485,000 to support its development. This year, the Welsh Government invested a further £100,000 in the service, which will ensure veterans receive faster access to assessment and treatment services.
Earlier this year the Health Minister commissioned Public Health Wales to carry out a review of Veterans NHS Wales, which included an analysis of current and future demand for services and a consultation with providers and users about how the service operates and how it could be further improved.
The review found:
- Veterans who have used the service are very satisfied with the service and treatment they have received;
There was unanimous satisfaction with the therapists and the vast majority of veterans who were asked said they were happy with their waiting time;
- A low number of women and early service leavers have accessed Veterans NHS Wales to date. The review also identifies the Welsh prisoner veteran population as an area of potential unmet need.
- The review makes a series of recommendations to further enhance Veterans’ NHS Wales in the immediate and longer term to address areas of unmet need.
Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said:
“The Welsh Government is committed to supporting veterans and the wider armed forces community in Wales. Central to this commitment is ensuring veterans, in particular, have access to appropriate and timely healthcare.
“In recent years we have worked with partners in the NHS, the third sector, Ministry of Defence and the military to develop initiatives and policies to ensure veterans’ and serving personnel’s physical and emotional needs are met. We can be proud of our work, particularly in relation to mental health services for veterans in Wales.
“Health boards and Veterans NHS Wales must work together to implement the recommendations of this report to ensure veterans in Wales continue to have access to the UK’s only national, dedicated service to support their emotional and mental health needs.”
The Minister for Public Services Leighton Andrews said:
“I am pleased the Welsh Government is able to support our ex-servicemen and women in this way.
“As we mark the Centenary of World War One, there will never be a better time to show our gratitude to those brave men and women who put their lives on the line for their country.”
Phil Chick, Mental Health Development Lead for Wales at Public Health Wales said:
“We welcomed the approach by Welsh Government to carry out a review of the Veterans’ NHS Wales service. Whilst the review identified that there have been delays for some veterans accessing the service we are pleased to see that veterans are satisfied with the service and the treatment they have received. It is gratifying to see that improvements have been made to reduce waiting times since the report was published.
“With the number of men and women leaving the British Armed Forces due to increase, it’s crucial that veterans who experience mental health and wellbeing difficulties are able to access and use support services that are available to them. The Veteran’s NHS Wales service is an important function of this to help veterans return to civilian life. It is essential therefore, that the Veterans’ NHS Wales service is able to cope with current and future demand and that veterans are provided with clear information about the service and are referred for assessment and treatment in a timely manner.
“We hope the review of the Veterans’ NHS Wales service will provide the Welsh Government and our stakeholders with useful information and recommendations to instigate change so that veterans have access to the mental health and wellbeing support they need now and in the future.”
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