A LOCAL NHS Trust has been awarded a contract to help soldiers with mental illnesses in the South.

The national contract to provide acute mental health inpatient services for serving military personnel has been awarded to the Joining Forces Network, which includes including Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust in Hampshire.

The Network, a partnership of eight NHS mental health trusts, first secured the contract in 2009.

Southern Health’s specialist mental health unit, based at Parklands Hospital, Aldermaston Road, provides six beds for soldiers with a severe mental illness, and complements the armed forces’ own community mental health services in the area.

In some cases, front-line soldiers have been rushed straight to the unit in Basingstoke as soon as they have returned to the UK, still wearing their combat fatigues.

The new contract will include innovations such as a mental health ‘app’ specially developed to offer mental health information to personnel from the army, navy and air force, which will be rolled out shortly.

Dr Paul Warren, consultant psychiatrist and clinical service director at Parklands Hospital said: “The re-awarding of this contract is a reflection of the high quality support that staff in the unit have been providing.

“We’re delighted to be able to continue offering this highly specialised service to armed forces personnel in the region, and returning from conflict zones worldwide."