MoD must improve communication with service personnel and veterans, says Parliamentary report

The Ministry of Defence and other government departments need to improve the way they communicate with service personnel and veterans, according to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee.

British Army: 'This is Belonging' recruitment campaign by Karmarama
British Army: 'This is Belonging' recruitment campaign by Karmarama

A report on the Armed Forces Covenant, released last week, highlighted a number of areas where comms needs to be improved.

One example is that of the overhaul of accommodation for people serving in the armed forces and their families.

The report stated: "It is clear to us that the MoD has provided substandard information on these policy changes. As a result, it is struggling to retain the confidence of serving personnel."

Another area of concern where comms falls short is in healthcare – a key plank of the Armed Forces Covenant, described by the Government as "a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly".

It has been a decade since the Government announced that veterans whose injuries or ill-health were attributable to their military service would receive priority access to NHS medical treatment.

The report said: "We are disappointed that, a decade after the policy of priority access to healthcare for veterans was introduced, professional awareness and implementation remain inadequate."

There is also a lack of awareness among both veterans and GPs about mental health support, and a lack of publicly accessible information about available services, according to the report.

It described how defence minister Mark Lancaster, appearing before the committee earlier this year, "acknowledged the importance of communication in tackling the barriers to veterans accessing mental health support and told us that the MoD was considering the possibility of extending veterans' access to Defence Medical Services beyond the current six-month period after leaving the Armed Forces".

The report warned that although the Armed Forces Covenant, underpinned by the Armed Forces Act 2011, "is understood by increasing numbers of people, businesses and organisations", there are still "significant gaps in awareness".

On the issue of comms, it concluded: "It is clear that important messages about provision and entitlement are still not getting through to service providers and the MoD needs to redouble its efforts to rectify this. It must also ensure that it is responsive to the views and the needs of the Armed Forces community."

The MoD's most recent Covenant Annual Report sets out how it has worked with stakeholders on numerous comms activities throughout the previous year, including on social media and via print and online media, as well as on the Government's website.

An MoD spokesperson told PRWeek: "We will study the Committee's report carefully before providing an official response in due course."

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