Veterans: Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Implementation Board minutes - December 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 15 December 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Charles Winstanley, Chair
  • Maura Lynch, Scottish Government
  • Jane Menzies, Combat Stress
  • Martin Bell, NHS NSS 
  • Susan Bomphray, Scottish Government
  • Thelma Bowers, North Ayrshire HSCP
  • Alastair Cook, Scottish Government
  • Sharon Findlay, Defence Primary Healthcare Services
  • Eric Fraser, Ex-Veterans Commissioner
  • Mairi McKinley, NHS Fife
  • Jim Miller, NHS Chief Executive
  • Neil Morrison, Veterans Scotland
  • Julie Murray, Chief Officer Group
  • Michelle Ramage, Veterans First Point
  • Susanna Hamilton, Scottish Veterans Commissioner
  • Gerri Matthews-Smith, Edinburgh Napier University
  • Aleksandra Brokman, Scottish Government
  • Jo McBain, NHS Highland


  • Eddie Follan, COSLA

Items and actions

Declarations of interest

No conflicts of interest were declared.

Minutes of last meeting

CW asked the board to review the draft minutes of the 15 September 2022 meeting.

Action: No inaccuracies were raised. The board approved the minutes.

Budget update 

ML informed the board that although the outstanding NSS costs were still to be confirmed, there were surplus funds available to spend this year. She advised that costs of the implementation team would increase in the next financial year but the board could apply for external funding.

CW proposed to allocate some of the surplus funds to commissioning baseline research. GMS advised that such a study is essential to evaluate the success of the new service. MR suggested that agreeing a mandatory data set to record outcomes should be part of the research work.

Draft briefing packs for health boards

Jane Menzies presented an information pack outlining the current plans for the new service. The role of the navigator will be crucial to its design, but determining how many navigators per region will be required poses difficulties. There is a lot of third sector interest in providing navigators, despite no funds being offered.

Jane Menzies advised that the single point of access for the service will also manage referrals to the Scottish Veterans’ Treatment Pathway.

MR asked why the information pack didn’t say that navigators should be veterans themselves. Jane Menzies advised that this was the aspiration but she chose not to restrict the navigator role to veterans in order to ensure all areas can find suitable candidates. GMS, MB and EF suggested that veterans’ spouses could also be good candidates.

CW suggested for the pack to state that the board wishes for the navigators to be veterans but in certain circumstances people with knowledge of military environment could also fulfil the role.

Action: The board accepted CW’s proposal.

NM said that the term navigator was wildly used in healthcare and could be confusing. He suggested the term veteran navigator instead.

Action: The board agreed to adopt the term veteran navigator.

Julie Murray and TB suggested that the new service should be aligned with the development of the National Care Service. ML confirmed that the service will have to be embedded it national work and asked the board to support Jane Menzies’ plan in principle.

Jane Menzies offered to prepare a wider paper for the next meeting, outlining all the work being done on the service, regardless of its stage.

Action: The board agreed to support the plan in principle and asked Jane to prepare a wider paper for the next meeting.

Meeting with Etherton enquiry

ML updated the board on the meeting with Lord Etherton, who is leading an independent review into the experience of LGBT veterans who had served before 2000. She reported that Lord Etherton was pleased with the work currently underway in Scotland and with LGBT veterans being prioritised by the board.

UK-wide recommendations on LGBT veterans will be issued in early 2023. 

See Me launch

ML updated the board on the launch of the See Me veterans’ mental health anti-stigma campaign. The launch at Edinburgh Waverley station attracted significant interest in the campaign and positive press coverage.

See Me are currently securing another high profile venue to display campaign posters as well as developing podcast and theatre production as part of the campaign.

Communications (branding, website)

CW explained that Leith Agency was previously commissioned by NSS to produce branding, marketing plan and website. Their performance has been disappointing, despite CW providing them with an extra brief. So far no marketing plan was produced.

ML confirmed that CW was fair in his assessment of Leith Agency and advised that the issue has been escalated within the Scottish Government.

CW asked the board to comment on the shortened name for the service: Veterans’ Wellbeing Service.

MB and MR suggested that the shortened name wasn’t clear on what the service was.

Action: The board agreed to reinstate the full name: Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Service.

Scottish veteran research hub

GMS informed the board that she received funding from the Veterans’ Foundation to establish the Scottish Armed Forces and Military Research Hub. So far all the universities in Scotland except one agreed to be part of the hub. The hub will allow researchers to identify research gaps, conduct bigger and better studies and produce evidence that will impact on practice.

Action: GMS will send the framework for the hub to the board.

Any other business

NM recommended that Jane Menzies gets in touch with Duncan Mackinnon, who is leading a programme for veterans to join NHS across Scotland.

Action: NM to send contact details to Jane Menzies.

SH advised that the issue of whether navigators in the new service should be veterans requires further consideration. Some veterans, for example women, might prefer to speak to non-veteran. Recruiting veterans with the right skill set might also pose difficulties.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting will take place in Meridian Court, Glasgow on 15 March 2023.

Action: MB to send details on concession parking.

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