Veterans: Mental Health Support

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons on 18th February 2019.

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Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham

What steps his Department is taking to provide adequate mental health support for veterans.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The provision of veterans’ mental health support is the responsibility of the NHS in England and the devolved Administrations, but the MOD is committed to ensuring veterans are aware of what support is available.

Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham

I thank the Minister for that answer. The Covenant Fund Trust will play a vital role in providing important organisations such as the Shropshire armed forces community trust with additional resources to help veterans with mental health problems. Will the Minister give me an assurance that he will update the House on how he and his other colleagues are lobbying the Chancellor for additional resources for the Covenant Fund Trust?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The Covenant Fund Trust has increased, but my hon. Friend is absolutely right that it forms a wider package of measures. I join the Secretary of State in saying that we would like to see the defence budget increase not simply because of procurement or training, but because we need to look after our people. This is an illustration of that. We introduced the mental health and wellbeing strategy a year and a half ago. This has helped armed forces personnel to be more aware of what mental health support is available.

Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

There is still confusion among clinicians and veterans over how the armed forces covenant guarantee of priority treatment for conditions related to the veterans service is applied, so what discussions has the Minister had with the Health Minister in Wales to support our veterans there?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The Defence Secretary co-chairs the veterans board, which looks at precisely this. We need to make sure, no matter whether it is in England or in the devolved Administrations, that no veterans are left without the support that they need. It is important, no matter which hospital or organisation it is, that they are aware of their covenant responsibilities in looking after our brave service personnel and veterans.