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Award recognises University of Chester academic’s work to support veterans

A senior researcher at the University of Chester has been presented with a prestigious award for her work to support veterans and their families.

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) Research Centre has announced that Dr Rebecca Randles has been awarded the Research Excellence Award, at the FiMT Research Centre Conference 2023.

Dr Randles is a senior researcher at the Westminster Centre for Research in Veterans at the University of Chester.

Dr Randles was the lead researcher on the innovative ‘Where Are All the Veterans’ project. This aimed to understand the most effective approach to raising ex-Service personnel registration in primary healthcare in new and novel ways.

Through this project, in just six months, an additional 1,311 ex-Service personnel were identified across 12 primary healthcare practices, raising registration by more than 200%.

As a component of this project, Dr Randles wrote a publication on the prevalence of mental health disorders within ex-Service personnel using coding on primary healthcare records. This novel approach resulted in more valid and reliable data on the mental health needs of the ex-Service personnel community. Following publication, this remained the most-read article on BMJ (British Medical Journal) Military Health for over 12 months.

The ‘Where Are All the Veterans’ project had numerous benefits for ex-Service personnel and their families. Improved registration and staff education in primary care practices resulted in more effective delivery of patient-centred care and staff felt more confident in understanding and supporting patients who are ex-Service personnel.

Following this, numerous organisations and individuals have requested Dr Randles’ advice in view of improving the support they provide to veterans within healthcare settings.

Dr Randles said:

“It is an honour to receive this award and for this incredibly important work to be recognised; with the identification of veterans we can better understand and support the needs of the armed forces community. Though further work is to be done, this is a positive step in the right direction. I’d like to thank Forces in Mind Trust for funding the work and Professor Alan Finnegan for his support as Principal Investigator.”

Professor Nicola Fear, Co-Director, FiMT Research Centre said:

“Rebecca’s work has had an invaluable impact on the care of ex-Service personnel and she is fully deserving of this recognition.”

Dr Mary Keeling, Research Manager at the FiMT Research Centre added: “We are honoured to present Dr Randles with this award for Research Excellence, recognising her contributions to this work alongside the work of the wider project team and the direct positive impact for ex-Service personnel and their families.”

The awards were presented at the Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre Conference yesterday (Wednesday, March 8) in London.

The FiMT Research Centre provides an accessible and authoritative evidence base on military to civilian transition as well as connecting researchers, policy makers, and service providers, to inform and transform policy and practice affecting UK ex-Service personnel and their families. The annual FiMT Research Centre Conference gives a platform to speakers from research, government, and service providers to highlight topical research, policy, and practice impacting ex-Service personnel and their families.

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