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Thursday 28 October 2021

Our response to Treasury's spending plans

Posted by: Help For Heroes | Categories: General

On Wednesday, 27 October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Treasury’s spending plans in his Budget statement.

We welcome recognition of the ongoing, complex needs of veterans and support the investment in innovative research to develop pioneering surgery techniques and treatment options for traumatic conditions.

We look forward to hearing further details of how the Veterans’ Health Innovation Fund will be administered by the Office of Veterans Affairs.

However, focus and funding is also needed on the improvement of existing care pathways. For example, the Veterans Mobility Fund closed earlier this year passing the financial burden to charities, like ours, to fund essential mobility equipment not available on the NHS.

We are disappointed that our recommendation, alongside Blesma, to reinstate the fund was not included in the Budget.

The example in the Government’s announcement of what the Innovation Fund may be used for is, in fact, a procedure that has been around for many years: osseointegration.

While many veterans with limb loss have already funded the surgery for themselves, we welcome additional research into the long-term impacts of the procedure.

With mental-health treatments, we are following developments in drug assisted and holistic complimentary therapies as mental health treatment.

Research into these areas is much needed to better understand the outcomes, so individuals can make more informed choices about their treatment.

However, following the events in Afghanistan we are expecting significant demand for existing mental health services. We are still waiting on further detail from the Government of the £5m funding for veterans mental health announced in September.

We have increased our capacity to support Afghan interpreters, and other embedded civilians who served under UK command and have now been relocated to the UK.

Many urgently need mental and physical support for trauma, both physical and psychological. We believe these individuals, and their families, benefit from access to veteran-specific services, like our Hidden Wounds service, but additional funding is essential to get them the support they need.

As it stands, interpreters are not able to access veteran-specific statutory services, such as Op Courage, which means access to our services is crucial for those who served shoulder to shoulder with British troops.

Innovation is vital to ensure veterans get the care they deserve, but it comes at a cost. We would like to see plans for the sustainability of the innovation fund, how the treatments found to be successful through new research will be delivered and funded to ensure there is a long-term positive impact for veterans and their families.

CEO Mel Waters said: “We welcome recognition of the ongoing, complex needs of veterans and support the investment in innovative research to develop pioneering treatment options for traumatic physical and psychological conditions, but the basic needs of veterans and embedded civilians who served under UK command, as well their families, also need to be met.”