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Veterans

Volume 571: debated on Tuesday 26 November 2013

We have made excellent progress in improving the health care of our veterans by investing £22 million to support their physical and mental health. The Government have also made available £35 million of the LIBOR bank fines to support veterans and armed forces projects.

I thank the Minister for that response. Will he outline the steps being taken to ensure that there is a co-ordinated approach between those commissioning services for veterans, including Salisbury district hospital, which does so much to service the veterans in Wiltshire, so that that they get the right revenue at the right time and do not go into deficit?

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of co-ordinating veterans services, and getting the continuity of care right between a soldier or a member of the armed forces leaving the armed forces and being looked after by the NHS. I hope he will be reassured to hear that in terms of specially commissioned services, we now have nine super-prosthetic centres available for veterans who have lost limbs, 10 specialist mental health teams looking after veterans, a 24-hour mental health support line for veterans and many other measures. We are also making IVF available to veterans who have lost genitalia as a result of combat injuries.

Given that health is a devolved matter, is the Minister satisfied that the Administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are providing similarly sufficient services for our veterans?

Obviously, we work closely with the devolved Administrations on all such matters. We have UK armed forces, and with health being a devolved responsibility, it comes to each part of the United Kingdom to put in place the right support. On the whole, that is done very well, but I am particularly proud of the efforts the Government have made on veterans’ mental health and on specialist prosthetic centres, which can be commissioned by the devolved Administrations if they wish to make such facilities available.

Many veterans are young men and women, and I know from my own constituency case work that a tremendous burden is often placed on elderly parents in caring for them, especially if they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Does the Minister agree that better integration between medical services in the armed forces and the NHS will benefit those families as well as the veterans themselves?

My hon. Friend speaks with considerable knowledge of the subject from her tradition and strong record of service. She will know that an important aspect of providing proper support for veterans is ensuring that we give their families the right support. We are working very closely with armed forces families and services charities to ensure that we do exactly that. That is why we have also put in place mental health first aid support for the families of servicemen and women to ensure that families know how to support veterans when they run into difficulties with post-traumatic stress disorder.