THE Government must step in after a mental health charity for veterans was forced to stop taking on new cases due to funding woes, Harwich and North Essex’s MP has said.

Combat Stress is struggling due to a drop in its income from £16 million to £10 million this financial year.

NHS England had previously commissioned the charity to provide a residential programme for veterans, in exchange for more than £3 million a year.

But following a review, NHS bosses have decided to instead use this cash for new services like community-based help.

Due to the funding cuts, the charity has been forced to scale back its workforce and put a freeze on referrals.

Sir Bernard Jenkin has been involved with Combat Stress for nearly 20 years and is its vice-president.

He said: “I have been in conversations with Combat Stress and ministers.

“I have even had an exchange of texts with the Prime Minister over the issue.

“I think the Government should demonstrates its commitment to veterans and step in with a new contract which updates the treatment strategy of Combat Stress.

“It is unconscionable that veterans with severe mental illness as a result of their service to our country should have to make do with a visit to the GP and whatever happens after that.

“We know our mental health services in this country are not up to scratch at all and the Government should make sorting veterans’ mental health a starting point.”

To celebrate his 50th birthday, Sir Bernard raised more than £100,000 for Combat Stress at a special fundraising event attended by guests including Baroness Margaret Thatcher.

He said he would do everything he could to secure the charity support.

He added: “I think this is a problem which has developed over time but I think the Government has got to fix it.

“It would be shaming for our country if we cannot fix this.

“The Government should commit £3 million to £5 million on a rolling basis to provide extra income for Combat Stress.”

Sir Bernard is standing to be leader of the Defence Select Committee in the House of Commons.