A service veteran has paid tribute to specialist NHS services for saving his life. Lloyd Dellaway, a veteran of Afghanistan, served in the Royal Signals for 9 years (3 as a reservist and 6 as a regular). Lloyd, who received a medical discharge in 2015 and was diagnosed with PTSD in 2016, was speaking during a visit by Gillian Keegan MP, Minister for Care and Mental Health and Leo Docherty MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans to St Pancras Hospital on Monday 16 May.
Lloyd said: “When you come out of the army you are on your own, a soldier without a war. I was referred to Op Courage in 2019/20 after two suicide attempts and it has saved my life. Op Courage plays a crucial role in helping veterans adjust to civilian life and needs to be more visible to those preparing to leave the armed forces."
Specialist care and support
The Ministers were visiting St Pancras to hear about the work of the Veterans’ Trauma Network (VTN) and Op Courage. The VTN provides specialist care and support for veterans who have physical health problems from their time in the UK Armed Forces. It has a network of 18 NHS Trusts across England, some of which include major trauma centres, supported by a team of consultants, surgeons and NHS staff. Veterans are supported by military charities and allocated a Veteran Support Worker who can provide welfare support to the veteran, their families and carers.
The VTN provides person-focused care planning looking at all the needs of the veteran. In the past year the VTN has received 149 referrals to the service. Op Courage offers specialist NHS care for Armed Forces veterans. Through Op Courage veterans can access the most suitable level of service across seven regions in England receiving support from healthcare professionals who have a military background or understanding of the Armed Forces.
Dr Sue Ferrier, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, from Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust is the partnership lead for the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service and Complex Treatment Service (London and South-East) and the Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service for the London region. She said: “The visit provided an opportunity for staff and service users to speak about the specialist services for reservists and veterans including the integrated work across the VTN and Op Courage. We were pleased to receive such positive feedback from the ministers and our Armed Forces commissioner about the work we do.”
Richard Chalmers is a British Army veteran and now works as a peer support lead for London’s Op Courage. Richard said: “We know that a proportion of former service personnel struggle with mental and physical health when they leave the armed forces. At the meeting veterans were able to share their experiences of the VTN and Op Courage and describe how this had played a valuable role in reshaping their lives as civilians.”
Help inform future plans
NHS England is seeking views on veterans mental and physical health services to inform future plans for Op Courage and the Veterans’ Trauma Network. To share your views, visit the NHS England website to complete a survey, which closes on 22 May 2022.