The Liberal Democrats will today present a Bill with cross party support which would require the Government to ringfence mental health spending for veterans and members of the armed forces.
Speaking ahead of presenting the Bill, Liberal Democrat Defence spokesperson Jamie Stone warned “with a spike in suicide amongst service families, the Government must urgently commit to proper support.”
The move by the Liberal Democrats comes after that cuts to the NHS have meant that mental health charities, such as Combat Stress, are no longer able to take on new referrals in England.
The party has written to the Chancellor urging him to take immediate action and recognise the importance of these mental health services in the Budget.
Liberal Democrat Defence spokesperson Jamie Stone said: “People who have served in our armed forces have often risked their lives for our country. It is unforgiveable that we do not do enough to look after them in return.
“Cuts to the NHS, under this Conservative Government, have led to dramatic falls in psychiatric staff and the conditions at MoD mental health centres.
“With a spike in suicide amongst service families, the Government must urgently commit to proper support for people who risk so much for their country.
“Without ringfenced support, however, I am not alone in fearing specialised support will struggle to exist. The Conservative Government should not only support my Bill but use the upcoming Budget to act immediately.”
Sue Freeth, Chief Executive of Combat Stress, added: “We support this campaign to ringfence funding for mental health services for veterans, serving personnel and their families. The government currently operates veteran-specific services such as the NHS Veterans Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service and Complex Treatment Service. However, 82% of the veterans treated by Combat Stress have tried to engage with NHS services but their needs have not been met. The government needs to ringfence funding for specialist services such as ours, that understand and can successfully treat those veterans with complex PTSD.
“There is a significant funding gap for veterans with complex mental health needs who need intensive clinical rehabilitation and struggle to access this support elsewhere. Faced with significantly scaling back our services due to a reduction in funding, we are holding urgent talks with the government, calling on them to step up for veterans and bridge the gap.”