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Helping our heroes: NHS urges veterans to get help despite coronavirus outbreak

To mark VE Day, the NHS wants all those who have served their country to know that dedicated help and support is still available despite the coronavirus outbreak.

In Cheshire, a separate service is specifically commissioned to provide dedicated support to veterans - including access to psychological therapies.

All veterans are entitled to priority access to NHS care - including hospital, primary and community care. Veterans are advised to notify their GP practice about their veteran status to facilitate this.

While a growing number of veterans have been referred for help year-on-year, the latest national data indicates a drop in the number of people reaching out to specialist services in April 2020.

But, despite the coronavirus outbreak, help is still available and has been adapted to offer more digital services, including video consultations with psychotherapists and support over the phone.

Kate Davies CBE, Director of Armed Forces at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “This weekend’s VE Day commemorations are a reminder of the remarkable difference our armed forces have made to our country throughout history and the contribution they continue to make today on the NHS frontline in the fight against coronavirus.

“At a time when we are facing significant uncertainty and long periods of isolation which can be particularly worrying, it has never been more important for veterans to reach out if they need support– help is available – with new digital offers which ex-personnel are already benefiting from.”

The NHS is committed to making sure every veteran gets the best possible support for their physical and mental health with dedicated services available for those who struggle with civilian life including targeted mental health services for veterans.

These include the NHS Veterans' Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), which identifies and treats mental health needs early, and the NHS Veterans' Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS), which gives intensive support to those with military-related complex mental health concerns not improved by earlier care and treatment.

Since the TILS service was launched in April 2017 it has had over 11,000 referrals up to May 2020, while there have been almost 1,500 CTS referrals in total up to April 2020.

Both offer local community-based support ranging from therapeutic treatment for complex challenges or trauma, to help meeting wider needs that can have an impact on mental health, such as physical health, employment, housing, finances, social relationships and drug and alcohol misuse.