Help on the cards for ex-service community

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A MAJOR report into the health needs of the region’s ex-service community is set to be discussed by councillors.

Dozens of recommendations aimed at improving the support available have been put forward by the 12 North-East local authorities that were involved in the report.

Hartlepool Borough Council officers and councillors took part in the project, which was funded by the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS).

It is the first time that councillors from all the region’s local authorities have come together in this way.

The aim of the report was to examine the different needs of the ex-service communities – believed to be between 500,000 and one million people in the North-East – the extent to which they are able to access services and support the good practice across the region.

The report concluded that there needs to be improved ways of identifying the ex-service community, there should be better “joined-up” work between local authorities, and there should be more support for personnel leaving the services.

It added that there is a need for a network to be set up which includes the voluntary sector, local authorities, the NHS and Armed Forces.

In total, 47 recommendations have been made including local authorities asking residents that they provide services for whether or not they have served in the Armed Forces.

There have also been calls for the Government to consider using an individual’s NHS or National Insurance number to identify their veteran status.

Another recommendation is for local authorities to ask the North East National Housing Federation to carry out a mapping exercise to see what provision there is for the ex-service community and also for the prison and probation service to do more detailed work on the needs and nature of offending veterans.

The evidence was collected from face-to-face interviews, focus groups and questionnaires.

Cabinet members in Hartlepool will meet next week to discuss the report.

A report to councillors said: “Members of Hartlepool’s health scrutiny forum have been actively involved in the scrutiny investigation into the ‘Regional Review of the Health Needs of the Ex-Service Community’ and the CfPS recognised the North-East regional joint health overview and scrutiny committee’s investigation at their recent Good Scrutiny Awards 2011.”

The committee was presented with the joint working and overall impact awards.

The council’s cabinet committee, which is chaired by Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond, is due to meet Monday, June 20, at 9.15am at the Civic Centre.