Injured veterans ‘let down on care’

Published: Wednesday 29th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Medical experts have accused the Government of failing to honour its promise to care for armed forces veterans injured in Britain’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Professor Neil Greenberg, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and Professor Tim Briggs, a leading orthopaedic surgeon, have said commitments made in the Armed Forces Covenant that veterans should receive priority treatment in the NHS for injuries suffered in the line of duty are not being fulfilled.

They include former service personnel who have lost limbs in the course of operations as well as those who have suffered mental health problems.

Prof Briggs, who recently wrote a report outlining the problems former personnel face in the NHS, said he had been “moved” by the sacrifice made by veterans who attended his clinics.

“We can do better and we should do better,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I was concerned about veterans. They weren’t aware of the Armed Forces Covenant and finding access to specialist care was sometimes proving difficult, and as a result some veterans were falling through the net.”

Prof Greenberg, who is the Royal College of Psychiatrists lead on veterans’ issues, said the Government was not delivering on the promises it had made.

“The Government indeed claims to be providing many forms of support and mental health care, particularly for veterans, but in my view the Government needs to be a bit more honest about what it is delivering and just what it says it’s delivering, because the two are definitely not the same,” he told the Today programme.

Health Minister Dan Poulter said the Government had now established 10 specialist centres for veterans who had lost limbs and set up 10 teams providing mental health care for ex-service personnel.

“When a veteran comes into contact with the NHS, if there is an equal need and an equal clinical priority with another patient, then the veteran does get priority and priority access to services,” he told the programme.

“It is important that when these brave servicemen and women have put their lives on the line for our country in conflicts overseas, we do properly look after them when they return home. We have now invested £22 million directly to do that.”

Published: Wednesday 29th October 2014 by The News Editor

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