NHS Wales launch trauma network to support veterans with severe injuries

The Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn AM, has this week officially launched a new network to support injured veterans.

The Veterans Trauma Network Wales (VTN Wales) aims to ensure that veterans across Wales, who have suffered severe physical injury during their time in the forces, are able to access the timeliest and most appropriate expert care for their injuries.

Recent conflicts have seen unprecedented survival rates from the most severe injuries among service personnel; these patients receive comprehensive care and rehabilitation before being discharged from the Armed Forces.

However, after being discharged, they are NHS patients and, in some cases, the consequences of their injury can lead to further physical or mental health problems, which may mean that further assessment and treatment is needed.

The complex nature of these injuries sometimes means that patients need to be seen by highly specialised services.

VTN Wales will be a central service to assist these patients, as well as healthcare professionals and the third sector, with advice on how to access the service most appropriate for their needs as quickly as possible. It will complement the existing mental health services provided by Veterans NHS Wales.

The network will also advise and assist with securing appropriate funding where cross-border referral is necessary.

VTN Wales will form a collaboration of specialists with relevant expertise who are interested in veterans’ care in the Welsh tertiary centres and, for patients in North and Mid-Wales, will be closely linked to the equivalent members of VTN England working in Liverpool, Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent.

Speaking at the launch, Hannah Blythyn AM, said, “I am delighted to attend this launch today which highlights the Welsh Government’s commitment to fully supporting the members of the Armed Forces and veterans in Wales.

“Wales is leading the way in providing a national service for supporting veterans’ mental health. This network will now offer specialist care and support for our veterans with very specific physical needs.”

Wing Commander David O’Reilly, an RAF general surgery consultant who works at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff and who will be the Clinical Lead for the new network, said, “By collaborating with a network of specialists across Wales, we can ensure through the Veterans Trauma Network that those who have been injured while serving our country are given the care and attention from the NHS in Wales that they both need and deserve.”

Initially, VTN Wales will be hosted by the Major Trauma Directorate within the Specialist Services Board of Cardiff & Vale UHB. When it becomes operational, the new South, Mid and West Wales Major Trauma Operational Delivery Network (ODN) will become the host organisation.

VTN Wales will accept referrals from across Wales and healthcare professionals can refer patients to the network by emailing: [email protected]

Picture (c) Cardiff & Vale University Health Board.