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Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) today publishes its report following a Survey of Healthcare for the Armed Forces Community in Wales

Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) has today published a report on ‘Healthcare and the Armed Forces community in Wales.’

The report follows a survey conducted between December 2011 and February 2012 looking at the adequacy, availability and accessibility of NHS provision for Armed Forces personnel, their families and veterans in Wales. It drew primarily on the personal experiences of members of the Armed Forces community, but also included input from the main service organisations and charities.
Some consistent themes and messages emerged from this work and six recommendations are made for the NHS in Wales, the Welsh Government, service organisations and charities and the Armed Forces community itself to consider, primarily in relation to information, coordination and awareness/education. In addition, some specific issues were identified concerning present arrangements with regard to accessing healthcare, liaison between the MoD and the NHS and the overall provision and organisation of healthcare for the Armed Forces community.
There are two recommendations in particular which address the primary issues raised by many of those who responded to the survey.
The first is that each Local Health Board and Trust should establish an Armed Forces Forum bringing together military representatives, health managers, clinicians, social services, military and family welfare bodies, service charities and organisations, the third sector, the LHB Champion, the Community Champions (where they exist), a GP Champion and members of the Armed Forces community themselves. The Forum’s purpose would include to: 
  • ensure that the health needs of the Armed Forces community are identified, kept under review and are reflected fully in local plans for service provision and development;
  • develop and maintain a local directory of health and wellbeing services that will assist members of the Armed Forces community and service organisations and charities to help individuals in accessing appropriate healthcare in a timely and effective manner;
  • positively monitor and keep under review the effectiveness of the priority treatment arrangements within the services provided by and for the Health Board; and
  • develop and implement a rolling programme of education, training and awareness raising within NHS and contractor professions and staff of the particular health needs and issues of the Armed Forces community.
The issue of mental health problems amongst veterans, caused as a result of experiences during service, was the subject of a significant proportion of the responses we received. It is clearly an area of significant current concern and where more work needs to be done in developing a coherent and accessible range of appropriate services. As such a second key recommendation is that each Health Board should set up a veterans mental health clinical network developed around the newly established All Wales Veterans Health and Wellbeing Service to act as a focus to effectively address the mental health needs of veterans in Wales.
Chief Executive of HIW, Dr Peter Higson, said today:
‘One overriding theme from the comments and responses we received was the concern that the current focus on the Armed Forces community might fade with time, to their detriment in the decades ahead. I hope that our report will help to build on the commitments made by the Welsh Government in its ‘Package of Support’ so that the interests of the Armed Forces community are fully embedded in all areas of public policy and delivery in a way that will withstand the ‘test of time’.’

Source: Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW)