The decision follows the publication of the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) report on ‘Healthcare and the Armed Forces community in Wales’.
The report took into account the results of a survey which considered the adequacy, availability and accessibility of NHS provision for Armed Forces personnel, their families and veterans in Wales. It drew primarily on the personal experiences of members of the Armed Forces community, but also included input from the main service organisations and charities.
Six recommendations came out of the report, including one which called on the Welsh Government to consider the need to establish a form of residential centre in Wales.
Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths said:
“I am delighted someone of Rosemary’s experience has agreed to take this work forward. She brings to the role a wealth of knowledge gained from working within both the NHS and also the Military, in her role as a senior Territorial Army Officer.”
“The need for a veteran’s residential facility in Wales is an issue which is raised with me on a regular basis. The HIW report did not prescribe what form the facility should take or whether it should serve NHS or some wider purpose. As such, I want Rosemary to have a free rein in considering the issues as they impact veterans in the round, recognising the intricate link between physical and mental health and the wider environment in which we live.”
Professor Kennedy said:
“I was honoured to be asked to undertake this role. I know from first hand experience the sacrifices our military make on our behalf and also the difficulties they can have transitioning from military to civilian life.”
“I welcome the wide ranging remit provided by the Minister, which recognises that our health needs are impacted by the way in which we live our lives, through employment, education and in our communities. This is particularly true for veterans and whilst many leave the military to make a valued contribution to society, some, for a variety of reasons, do not make the adjustment easily. This has implications not just for the individual and their family but also our wider communities.”
Carl Sargeant, Minister for Local Government and Communities, who has responsibility for Armed Forces issues, welcomed the decision to convene a group to consider the issue under the stewardship of Professor Kennedy;
“At this time of year we honour and remember those members of the armed forces who have served their country. Wales has a proud military tradition which the Welsh Government recognises in the support we provide our veterans, serving personnel and their families through our Package of Support for the Armed Forces Community.”
“I am pleased the Health and Social Services Minister has asked Professor Kennedy to examine this important issue, particularly given her extensive military experience.”