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An innovative project which explored the services available to former servicemen and women across the North East has won national recognition.
In the first investigation of its kind, the region’s 12 local authorities joined forces to form the North East Health Scrutiny Joint Committee.
The Committee set out to establish whether the needs of returning servicemen and women – and those of their families – are met by the services currently available.
The inquiry explored three specific strands and involved wide-ranging consultation with military and civilian experts, organisations and statutory bodies.
It concluded that much more needs to be done including better communication and information sharing, prioritisation of mental health issues and improved access to affordable housing.
Middlesbrough Council provided officer support to the initiative, and Councillor Eddie Dryden, Chairman of Middlesbrough’s Health Scrutiny Panel, chaired the Physical Health workstream.
The investigation received national recognition when it won the Joint Working and Overall Impact categories at the recent Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) annual awards in London.
Judges praised the North East Health Scrutiny Joint Committee’s (HSJC) ‘great leap of the imagination’ in embracing regional working.
They also applauded the HSJC for taking on such an emotive and sensitive subject and making a real difference to the ex-service community.
The awards were hosted by CfPS Advisory Board member Baroness Sally Hamwee.
Councillor Eddie Dryden, Chairman of Middlesbrough’s Health Scrutiny Panel, said: “This was the first time that an issue has been investigated across an entire region and I’m delighted that this innovation has been recognised.
“Middlesbrough and the whole North East are a forces friendly region with a proud military tradition, so it was fitting that the review should explore this hugely important and topical area.
“The Committee’s recommendations are the first step towards a better future for our servicemen and women and their families.”