A FORMER army medic from Gosport, who is now leading one of the biggest shake-ups in NHS mental healthcare services, has pledged: ‘We will always be there for veterans’.
Dr Jonathan Leach made the vow ahead of a major roll-out of the NHS’s veterans’ mental health complex treatment service this month.
The new scheme will streamline the way traumatised service personnel are given treatment for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
As part of the initiative, which will soon roll out across Hampshire, veterans will be given a greater chance for local treatment in the community that are more flexible than previous residential courses.
Dr Leach, who served 25 years in the British Army reaching the rank of Colonel and was once based in Gosport, said a new team of specially-trained professionals – many veterans or current-serving armed forces personnel – had been behind the idea.
It comes after fears were raised by ex-servicemen about the NHS axing a £3.2m fund for armed forces charity, Combat Stress, which offers services for those battling PTSD.
Reacting to the concerns, Dr Leach said: ‘The NHS will always be there to help our armed forces community.
‘That is exactly what this new service will do: it will offer more opportunities for those in need to get the treatment they deserve.’
Three partnership trusts oversee the scheme, with Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust covering Hampshire.
As well as helping those with PTSD, the project will also support those with addiction and alcohol problems.
A new network of veteran-friendly GP services, with improved treatment options, has been created with 70 surgeries currently signed up.
The roll-out of the scheme is due to be tackled in phases, and is anticipated to arrive in Portsmouth in the summer.
Dr Leach added: ‘We know we need to get better at promoting what’s out there.
‘This new service will be a significant improvement on what is already offered. It is a game-changer.’
One Afghanistan veteran, who has been battling PTSD, still has his concerns. The 39-year-old, who asked not to be named, said: ‘This certainly sounds like an improvement to the old NHS system.
‘It’s obvious they’re trying to help but I’m still not convinced. I still feel there will be those from the armed forces community who will still slip under the radar.’
For details on the new service, email firstname.lastname@example.org