Battling it out: Veterans' experiences of health services

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Wigan and Leigh investigated the views and experiences of 72 veterans regarding health services through engagement events and surveys. The report found that more than three-quarters of veterans had health conditions and the majority had more than one health problem. The most commonly identified problems were addiction (particularly alcohol and particularly among veterans discharged within the last ten years) and hearing loss (across all age groups); Many veterans faced challenges in receiving adequate physical and mental health support as well as accessing information and signposting about health and care services on discharge from the armed forces; Only a third of veterans identified themselves as members of the Armed Forces Family when registering with universal services.Those who did fared better in terms of feeling that they had received appropriate information about services; Though some found it difficult to articulate, veterans life experiences do affect their relationships with and expectations of mainstream services. For this reason most veterans expressed preferences and appreciation for peer led services which they feel better understand them and therefore meet their needs better; the majority of respondents felt that the Armed Forces Covenant has not made a huge difference to their experiences in transition to civilian life. Though there were some examples of good practice. The recommendations made in the report included that: A round-the-table dialogue between veterans and the local authority should be convened to help co-design a framework of understanding and cooperation in respect of implementing the Armed Forces Covenant; A veteran’s section on the Community Book would help people access relevant local information; All NHS and Local Authority Services should enquire if a patient/client is a member of the armed forces family at first contact, and signpost people to provide appropriate specialist support; Particular attention should be paid to those who were ‘dishonourably discharged’ and especially those who present with addiction problems as these individuals are least likely to have been adequately supported prior to discharge and during the transition process; Considering the findings on hearing loss, referring ex-service personnel for regular hearing tests may be advisable; Recognise the benefits of specialist veterans services, particularly those with an element of peer support; and More work needs to be done to help groups to reach out to wider armed forces family (ex-service women and ex-forces families).

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General details

Report title 
Battling it out: Veterans' experiences of health services
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Wigan
Date of publication 
Thursday, 21 March, 2019
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 15 January, 2018
Date evidence capture finished 
Monday, 29 January, 2018
Type of report 
Key themes 
Continuity of care
Holistic support
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Engagement event
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Specific ethnicity if known 
Sexual orientation 
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.