08 March 2011

Views sought on improving mental health services for service personnel and veterans

The views of current and former service personnel, plus their carers and their families,  are being sought by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP), on how mental health services can be improved for veterans from across the south west region.

Feedback will influence recommendations to be made to the Strategic Heath Authority by the end of March on how the recent Murrison review entitled "Fighting Fit: A Mental Health Plan for Servicemen and Veterans" can best be implemented.

This work is driven by a tight timetable that is designed to enable funding to be managed more effectively in the next financial year, so as to deliver improved care and support to service personnel who suffer mental health problems as a result of their military experiences. Consequently your input, preferably before the end of March, would be appreciated.  However, information submitted after that time would continue to be used to influence actual service delivery.

AWP has been tasked to work in partnership with commissioners, other mental health trusts, the main service and veterans organisations plus those sector groups active in this area to identify the mental health service requirements of veterans and the best way of delivering effective support  to them.

The project, which is part of a national programme,  is designed to ensure  coherent and seamless delivery of services from a range of statutory and voluntary agencies .

In the next few weeks a range of veterans and military groups will be visited, views will be sought from GPs, voluntary groups and other NHS organisations.  But individual views are also being sought.

Asked to do this work by NHS South West, the project is being driven by AWP under the auspices of  the South West Armed Forces Health Forum (SWAFF), and already a specialist mental health sub group has been set up by AWP involving a range of statutory and voluntary organisations to contribute to this project.

Dr Arden Tomison, Executive Medical Director of AWP, said:  "This is an opportunity to identify the support that is needed and to draw on the positive experiences of  the NHS, the military and third sector organisations to identify the most effective ways of making this available throughout the south west.

"Similar projects are being run in other parts of the country and, supported by the Government, the hope is that by identifying the very best practice the level of care will improve."

Ex service personnel, or those with a particular interest in this area, who would like to pass on their views on this subject were invited to take part in the survey.

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