Anonymous British Army soldier in Afghanistan 170312 CREDIT PA
Forces Charities

Combat Stress Stops Taking On New Referrals Due To Funding Crisis

It had been receiving around 2,000 referrals for treatment a year.

Anonymous British Army soldier in Afghanistan 170312 CREDIT PA

Veterans mental health charity Combat Stress is no longer able to take on new cases in England and Wales, because of a funding crisis.

Combat Stress said its income has fallen from £16 million to £10 million in this financial year partly due to a cut in its NHS funding support.

The charity said the decision to turn down new cases had been taken "with great sadness".

Combat Stress had been receiving around 2,000 referrals for treatment a year.

It will now send all new referrals from England and Wales to the NHS, which Combat Stress said “needs to demonstrate” it can deal with the increased demands.

“I don’t believe the NHS can pick this up. That is why we exist,” Sue Freeth, chief executive of Combat Stress, told the BBC.

She said that 80% of veterans who come to the charity have either used the NHS and have not had their needs met, or have felt unable to use NHS services.

Veterans’ minister Johnny Mercer said he will hold an “urgent meeting” over Combat Stress’s problems.

The charity said it had received more than £3 million a year from NHS England, until 2018.

However, they say 90% of its funding now comes from public donations.

They will still receive more than £1m from NHS Scotland and will continue to take on new cases there and in Northern Ireland.

Several organisations and charities have warned of a rise in the number of veterans taking their own lives.

A spokesman for the NHS said: “Our number one priority is providing the best care for veterans and, after listening to what they wanted and a competitive process, the NHS has rolled out new specialist services to every part of the country which have seen over 10,000 people to date and are funded by more than £10 million every year.

“For anyone who has served in the Armed Forces and may be experiencing mental health difficulties help is available through speaking to their GP or contacting the dedicated NHS services directly.”

Cover Image: (Picture: PA).