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Mental Health of Veterans

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:14 am on 11th March 2020.

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Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence) 11:14 am, 11th March 2020

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. I come back to the point I made earlier: when this goes wrong, when we do not get this right, it is not only a tragedy for the individual and their families, but a tragedy for us as an institution if people come and give the best years of their lives, and we do not then have the follow-on care and so on that so many of them need.

I am confident that when we launch this service in April, it will provide the framework and the leadership that will bring in all the charities and all the brilliant little groups such as PTSD Resolution and others. They will fit in around this framework and deliver parts of the course. That is critical for the charities, because they will be able to focus on some things and not on others, but cognisant of the fact that that need is being met. There will be more long-term sustainability and contracts that they can enter into with the NHS that will give them financial stability. I am confident in 12 or 18 months’ time we will have a world-class offering for mental health for our veterans in this country.

When it comes to money, the Prime Minister is absolutely clear that we will provide the resources required to meet the demand. This healthcare model is the future of veterans’ care in this country. As he came into office, we saw a fundamental shift—this from someone who has irritated colleagues in this place over many years on this subject—towards this nation, particularly this place, being the ultimate guarantor of services for those who have served. It is not always the deliverer, but it is the guarantor.

Finally, we are going to get there with the programme. I am speaking at King’s College about it tomorrow and the formal launch is in April. I have a huge job of work to do to ensure that everybody in this country understands what it is, and I look forward to that challenge, but it is a team effort. This is not my mental healthcare plan. There are people who have done some amazing stuff in this field. All I am doing is bringing it together and providing that leadership, because that good stuff is there already. I genuinely think we are going to see a fundamental change in the next 12 to 18 months.