Major report backed

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COUNCILLORS have backed a major report into the health needs of the region’s ex-services community.

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

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

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

The council’s cabinet committee, chaired by Mayor Stuart Drummond, met to discuss the report which concluded that there needs to be improved ways of identifying the ex-service community.

It also found that 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. Labour councillor Jonathan Brash said: “I welcome this report which deals with an incredibly important subject. A lot of the recommendations are about working with the local NHS and that is something we can do.”

Labour councillor Ged Hall said: “Anything that can raise the profile of the needs of the ex-service community can only be welcomed.”

Meanwhile, Labour councillor Marjorie James, who chairs the scrutiny co-ordinating committee, said it was also important to remember the widows and families of servicemen and women killed in action.

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.