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Military veterans asked to help improve mental health services

NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG is calling on Armed Forces veterans to share their experience of mental health services and help improve future care across the area.

The CCG is helping to promote a national survey to help improve the care available for veterans as they move from military to civilian life.

The survey is a chance for veterans to share their experiences and views of existing mental health services and to understand the reasons why some people have not sought or received support and treatment.

In addition to seeking views from veterans, family members and carers, as well as staff and organisations that are providing treatment and support in this area are all able to take part.

The NHS currently provides 12 mental health services across England specifically for veterans. They enable specialist staff to care for ex-forces personnel with mental health needs, direct them to the most appropriate service and give them effective treatment.  With new contracts due in the next year, this is an opportunity to develop future services that take account of current experiences.

Dr Tony Naughton, clinical chief officer for Fylde and Wyre CCG, said: “We are keen to hear from as many local veterans as possible as we look to utilise this national survey to help understand and shape local services.

“We know the transition from military to civilian life can be difficult, especially for those veterans who have experienced traumatic scenes on foreign battlefields, so it is essential we can help them in any way possible.”

Dr Jonathan Leach, chairman of NHS England’s Armed Forces and their Families Clinical Reference Group, said: “While mental health awareness is improving, we can do more to identify issues not just with post-traumatic stress disorder, but with wider problems linked to anxiety and depression.

“We are asking for feedback from veterans, their families and NHS specialists so that the right care and support is available early and easily for those who need it.”

It is hoped that thinking about their experiences will help veterans to start breaking down some of the stigma when it comes to talking about mental health issues.

One veteran to benefit from the care delivered by NHS staff was Tony Stubbs, who served three years in the Army and was struggling after his time in the military ended. He was referred to the Military Veterans’ Service, which looks after people in the Lancashire area.

Mr Stubbs said: “I’d be dead by now if the Military Veterans’ Service hadn’t helped me stop drinking and then helped me deal with my mental health problems.

“Now I am well, back on speaking terms with most of my family, helping other veterans as a peer mentor, studying at college and looking to get a paid job.”

Mr Stubbs is one of four veterans who recently trained as a community reporter as part of a pilot, commissioned by NHS England, to explore the barriers that veterans experience in accessing mental health support.

For further details on the survey, visit: https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/survey/veterans-mental-health-services


Notes:

  • NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is the organisation responsible for planning and buying health services in the area to meet patients’ needs. This is known as ‘commissioning’.
  • Led by family doctors (GPs), the CCG currently serves a population of 152,000 people across approximately 320 sq km of coast and countryside. The majority live in the urban towns of Fleetwood, Thornton, Poulton-le-Fylde, Kirkham and Lytham St Annes, but a significant proportion live in rural villages.
  • The CCG receives a set amount of money from the government and is committed to spending this wisely for the benefit of local people.
  • Giving you more choice is a priority of the modern NHS. More information is available at fyldeandwyreccg.nhs.uk/choice
  • The NHS Constitution sets out your rights as an NHS patient: nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Rightsandpledges/NHSConstitution/Pages/Overview.aspx
  • There are many ways to get involved in health service developments, including joining our Influence membership scheme or your practice’s patient participation group.
  • For more information about the CCG and how to get involved log onto fyldeandwyreccg.nhs.uk