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Mental Health Services: Armed Forces

Volume 701: debated on Monday 20 September 2021

11. What steps he is taking to help improve provision of mental health services for members of the armed forces. (903508)

19. What steps he is taking to help improve provision of mental health services for members of the armed forces. (903516)

The Defence Medical Services provides a responsive and comprehensive treatment service for personnel requiring medical intervention. We have improved access to mental healthcare and given armed forces personnel greater choice with the introduction of new ways of working, including digital triage and remote video consultation.

As the Minister knows, the armed forces covenant states:

“Those injured in Service, whether physically or mentally, should be cared for in a way which reflects the Nation’s moral obligation to them”,

but the Government have missed targets on all mental healthcare for veterans across all services in England. Unless that changes, does it not risk rendering the covenant, which I know the Government want to strengthen, meaningless? They need to get their act together on mental health services for veterans and the armed forces.

On the contrary, we are giving teeth to the armed forces covenant by passing the Armed Forces Bill, and we will ensure that no veteran, in whatever circumstances, is ever disadvantaged.

As we know, charities across the UK, including many that have supported veterans, have been hit hard during the pandemic, impacting on the services they provide, so what additional support are the Government offering charities, in order that they can cope with demand? What more can the Government themselves do to support veterans, given that their record so far is pretty poor?

On the contrary, we are putting an additional £3 million into Op Courage, which makes a total of more than £20 million this year, and an additional £5 million into armed forces charities, which means that more than £25 million will go to them this year. That shows that the Government are putting their money where their mouth is.