Healthwatch Hertfordshire conducted a study (commissioned by the Hertfordshire Armed Forces Covenant Board and funded by Hertfordshire Public Health) to investigate the healthcare needs and experiences of veterans in Hertfordshire to support the Hertfordshire Armed Forces Covenant Board in establishing an evidence base for any future projects. The study consisted of three parts; an online questionnaire of veterans, focus groups/121 sessions with veterans and interviews with NHS professionals. This engagement was conducted from June –December 2020. NHS services have expressed a clear commitment to working with the Health Subgroup of the Hertfordshire Armed Forces Covenant Board to improve experiences for veterans
Key findings of this research are 1) Most NHS services do not proactively identify veterans accessing their services. 2) Where services do identify and record veterans, there is no consistent way of sharing this information with other services. This means veterans’ healthcare needs and priorities are not fully understood, and this in turn can affect their access to priority treatment. 3) Veterans are often reluctant and/or not aware of the importance of sharing their military history with NHS services, preventing them from accessing support. 4) NHS services and veterans do not all agree on what ‘priority treatment’ for veterans means in practice. 5) NHS services and veterans are often unaware of what services and support are available to veterans. This prevents NHS services from signposting and supporting veterans effectively, and veterans from being able to request support if they need it. 6) Veterans can find it very difficult to access priority treatment, largely because NHS services are not always aware of this entitlement.
Healthwatch Hertfordshire, 2021. Improving Healthcare Access for Veterans. Report prepared for the Health Subgroup of the Hertfordshire Armed Forces Covenant Board.