We have a duty to improve the health of our local population. This includes service personnel, their families, those who have served and their families living within the city.

Our Health and Wellbeing strategy identifies priorities for local populations and the approaches that will be taken to bring about improvements in these areas. This strategy holistically considers the evidence of health and wellbeing outcomes across the city, and underpinning problems that can drive poorer outcomes across a range of issues.

While the armed forces communities’ needs are generally in line with the general population, there are some health and wellbeing issues that it is helpful to consider with the context of service life. In Portsmouth, the Armed Forces Community Needs assessment specifically considers the needs of the armed forces community, highlighting some of the unique and intersectional issues experienced by those who have served and their families which has helped shape our local offer.

What we know about the health of our local armed forces community

The health needs of the armed forces community have been recognised as an area of concern for Portsmouth since 2014 when the first joint strategic needs assessment was undertaken.  Since then, the needs of the armed forces community have remained broadly the same. Research and information available indicate that the majority of those within the armed forces community have needs in line with the general population. In addition, time in the services was noted to be associated with musculoskeletal disorders for some veterans.

There are some preventable health issues such as diabetes, alcoholism, mental health, and suicide which local health services need to work together to address. There is a small but significant number who experience a range of complex issues. These people require practitioners to have skills and understanding in relation to some of the unique factors that members of the armed forces experience to support these people to overcome the challenges they are experiencing.

In February 2023 a refresh of the Solent Armed Forces Community Needs Assessment published. You can read the full assessment on our website. The Armed Forces Community Within The Solent.

The Needs assessment demonstrated that whilst some good progress has been made with raising awareness, there is still more work needed. Recommendations from the needs assessment have been incorporated into the Solent Armed Forces Covenant Partnership Boards action plan 2023-2025. You can find out more about the work of the partnership on our dedicated armed forces community page.

Health services commissioned by the council

Portsmouth City Council does not directly deliver health services, but we are a commissioner of health services including sexual health, substance misuse, health visiting and school nursing services. Where we do not deliver services directly, we work with our providers to ensure that the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant are upheld. Many of our services are delivered by partners who are part of the health and care partnership or are primary care providers bound by Covenant duty themselves. If you have any questions of concerns in relation any of our commissioned health services, please email armedforcesspoc@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

Veterans Aware

The Veteran Aware standard for hospitals and the Veteran Friendly GP practices is helping to drive improvements in NHS care for people who serve or have served in the UK armed forces and their families.

Veteran Aware providers will:

  • provide leaflets and posters to veterans and their families explaining what to expect
  • train relevant staff to be aware of veterans’ needs and the commitments of the NHS under the Armed Forces Covenant
  • inform staff if a veteran or their GP has told the hospital they have served in the armed forces
  • ensure that members of the armed forces community do not face disadvantage compared to other citizens when accessing NHS services
  • signpost to extra services that might be provided to the armed forces community by a charity or service organisation in the trust
  • look into what services are available in their locality, which patients would benefit from being referred to

Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust is one of 104 NHS providers that have been accredited as exemplars of the best care for veterans nationally. There are also three GP practices in the city who are veterans aware:

Mental health support

Mental health problems are common and can affect anyone, including veterans, serving personnel, reservists, and their families. It is important to get help and support if you or someone you know has mental health problems. Locally there are a range of services that can support members of the armed forces community with mental health issues:

  • The Military Mental Health Alliance led by Solent NHS brings local providers together to work closely together to ensure that there is no wrong door.
  • Veterans Outreach Support (VOS) offers welfare, wellbeing and clinical provision to UK Armed Forces & Merchant Navy Veterans, as well as to spouses/partners. VOS have an in-house dedicated clinical team, delivering psychiatry and psychology services, mental health therapy and substance misuse support.
  • Op COURAGE is an NHS mental health specialist service designed to help serving personnel due to leave the military, reservists, armed forces veterans and their families. There are three core services offered:
    – The Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)- provides a first point of contact for veterans and their families who are experiencing mental health difficulties
    – The Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS)- offers treatment for a range of military related difficulties, including PTSD, depression, anger, and other complex mental health difficulties.
    – The Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS) – for veterans and their families in need of urgent mental health support or at a high risk of a mental health crisis. This service is provided by Solent NHS.

Contacting Op COURAGE

For services in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Oxfordshire or Buckinghamshire, call 0300 365 2000 or email gateway@berkshire.nhs.uk

For the Op COURAGE urgent care and support service, call 02394 387 924 or email snhs.veteranshis.se@nhs.net

In addition to dedicated mental health services there are a number of other local services that can support with housing, employment and finance; you can find more information about this in Access our Services and Other Support sections.