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Friday 30 September 2016
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Improved care for soldiers and veterans announced

Defence Secretary Liam Fox has announced there will be improved care available for troops and veterans with mental health problems.

More nurses will be dedicated to helping soldiers and a 24-hour helpline will be introduced to combat the "national scandal" of post-war suicides, Dr Fox said.

The new measures are among reforms recommended by a review published on 6 October, which examines the support given to ex-armed forces personnel.

Conservative MP and Iraq-war veteran Andrew Murrison was commissioned by David Cameron to compile the report after research revealed that 25% of Iraq veterans had suffered mental health problems, while one in 20 had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

All of Mr Murrison's recommendations in the report are expected to be accepted, but an additional 30 nurses and the free telephone service will be introduced immediately, Dr Fox will tell the Conservative Party conference.

Officials said the report by Mr Murrison – who is a serving Royal Navy reserve – includes calls for better health screening and new networks of voluntary support among a raft of recommendations.

Providing enough dedicated nurses for there to be one between every two mental health trusts will cost £1.5m a year, while the helpline will cost less than £500 a year by using an existing service, they indicated.

Combat Stress – a charity which deals with veterans' mental health issues – received 1,250 new referrals in the last year, up two-thirds since 2005 but still suspected to be a fraction of the true number of cases, government officials said.

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