At an event in the House of Lords hosted by Lord Patel of Bradford, Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has today launched a report which, for the first time, provides a summary of the extent to which the mental health needs of military veterans and their families are currently being assessed and supported in England. NHS England welcomes this report and will work with others to support the improvements recommended.
Funded by a charitable grant of £75,000 from FiMT, and in collaboration with NHS England and Community Innovations Enterprise (CIE), the report provides a systematic national review of veterans’ and family members’ mental and related Health Needs Assessments carried out in England by local authorities. This work was done in order to address gaps in knowledge and understanding and to help ensure the NHS’s valuable resources are spent wisely. The primary focus of the review is on Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) which provide analysis of the health needs of populations in order to inform and guide commissioning of health, wellbeing and social care services within local authority areas.
The report identifies three areas for priority action and a number of key findings, one of which highlights some methodological problems with JSNAs which has resulted in significant gaps in coverage of veterans’ health needs. The importance of this finding is to ensure that the health needs of this group can be adequately addressed in Health and Wellbeing Strategies. The report also shows a fundamental need for organisations with specific expertise, including wider NHS partners, service providers, GPs and armed forces charities, to work together to encourage a more easily accessible and integrated care pathway (which is of particular relevance for those veterans presenting mental and related health needs combined with a complex range of behavioural problems and/or social care problems).
Highlights of the ‘priority for action’ framework include:
- Targeted and intelligent use of data and information
The variations in coverage of veterans’ mental and related health needs in JSNAs across England may mean that national guidance on how to effectively ensure these needs are addressed is required. This could include specific advice on how to address the methodological issues identified in the report.
- Appropriate and sensitive evidence-based services
Specialist veterans’ mental health services should continue to form an important part of the care pathway but further development of appropriate and sensitive evidence-based services for veterans and family members, including reservists, will require care pathway improvements. Such improvements may include less restrictive access criteria that can enable services to better respond to complex needs, and new liaison and partnership working between the various stakeholders by establishing forums, such as learning collaboratives, which could utilize a possible pool of clinicians who are veterans or family members of veterans working in the NHS and who may be willing to act as champions and lead advisors within a structured learning programme.
- Involvement and participation of veterans and family members
There is a need to further strengthen the involvement of veterans and family members in local area service developments to ensure that they have a strong voice.
Kate Davies, Head of Armed Forces Commissioning at NHS England, said: “We welcome this report which will help colleagues in Public Health England, Local Government and Clinical Commissioning Groups to better understand the needs for the armed forces community in their local areas. We will also work with service users, carers and providers from all sectors, including the charities, to improve services. This will be particularly for those with complex needs, for families and for other groups whose needs may not be as visible, such as reservists.”
Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, Ray Lock, said: “This JHNA further builds our evidence base and has given us not only an important insight, but a vital framework for the Military and Healthcare communities to better work together. This research complements our newly-launched Mental Health Research Programme and we look forward to working with the NHS and CIE on future projects.”
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Notes to Editors:
Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have the overall responsibility for commissioning healthcare for veterans. However some mental health and prosthetic Services were funded by the Department of Health but these duties with their funding have been passed to NHS England since April 2013. A review of which mental health services are best commissioned nationally under what arrangements will be carried out in 2016.
About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):
- FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (The Fund), Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations. FiMT continues the Fund’s long-standing legacy of support for veterans across the UK with an endowment of £35 million awarded in 2012. Since 2004 the Fund has given more than £88 million to programmes supporting veterans http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.
- The aim of FiMT is to provide an evidence base which will influence and underpin policy making and service delivery in order to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to lead successful civilian lives.
- FiMT awards grants (both reactive and proactive) and commissions research along three key themes: Evidence, Innovation and Collaboration. All work is published to a high standard of reportage to add to the evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made. Read more about those FiMT have helped and reports they have published at the links below:
- Useful links