The new Veterans’ Affairs Minister said the money would support the development and trials of treatments, techniques and interventions for the wounded, injured or sick.
He said the much-needed funding would include work on “direct skeletal Fixation” – a pioneering technique to fix prosthetics directly to the bone and give amputees greater mobility. The money will also enable more research into how to better treat victims of blast injuries over time and how drugs can improve the long-term treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Research into traumatic brain injury and pioneering therapies to reduce scarring from injury will also be improved.
Mr Mercer said: “Our military veterans deserve the very best physical and mental healthcare money can buy.” “That’s why it is right that we invest cash in exploring how the latest innovation and technology can be used to help deliver that.” “I want to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran. That means ensuring we do all we can to help ensure better health and employment outcomes for those who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.”
The former Army Officer, who was promoted to his new position by Boris Johnson two weeks ago, has vowed to hold the next Prime Minister to account over veterans’ welfare. He has written an open letter to veterans and their families expressing his determination to keep fighting for improvements and delivering the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan. “We may well find ourselves right now at a point of political uncertainty,” he said. “But whatever the outcome of the coming weeks, I will continue to push to ensure the Government delivers on that step change in support to veterans to ensure it is felt by every
one who has served and sacrificed so much.”
Applications for the £ 5 million fund are open until the end of August and money will be awarded soon after. Bids will be managed by the Office for Veterans’ Affairs. There are four themes – digital, data and technology – surgical techniques, bioengineering and rehabilitation – public health, pain management, sight and hearing loss – female health needs. Organisations will receive grants or contracts to research or trial cutting-edge treatments.
The Cabinet Office said: “The funding is a recognition that science and technology is constantly evolving and that new techniques and procedures are developing at pace, therefore the cash will identify latest developments to ensure veterans’ treatment is informed by the very latest research and developments in clinical care. “It will bring the best of British innovation to the needs of our veterans, recognising their unique health needs stemming from their service.”
According to the Royal British Legion there are an estimated 95,000 veterans of working age with a Service-related injury in receipt of compensation. The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts between 2001 and 2014 alone saw 22,000 servicemen and women medically discharged from the armed forces for physical or mental health reasons.