Other vulnerable groups

Other vulnerable groups

Vulnerable groups tend to have higher utilisation of health and social care services and differences in numbers in some specific groups may help explain variations in resource use within a local area.

Ex-service community

Although service in the armed forces is generally associated with good health, there has been increasing research and media attention on service-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), other mental disorder, including mild traumatic brain injury and links to alcohol abuse, homelessness and crime.

In addition, more servicemen survive injuries that would have caused death years ago, due to advances in military health services. Therefore, the physical needs of those people surviving injuries during military conflict present significant challenges for health and social care services during recovery, before they return to service, or adapt to civilian life if medically discharged.

The North East provides a disproportionately high number of recruits to the armed forces, many of whom will return to settle in the area upon discharge.
  • advances in military medicine mean that more of the ex-service community may be returning to civilian life with complex and long term needs, which require significant levels of expertise and financial resource to meet
  • there is a strong body of evidence to indicate that the ex-service community have worse health outcomes than the general population
  • the transition for those leaving the forces, into the civilian NHS is patchy and variable in its effectiveness; the link between defence medical services and the local NHS needs to be much tighter and more systematic
  • earlier intervention from other civilian services, such as Job Centre Plus and housing would also facilitate a smoother transition for ex-servicemen
  • better information about size, geographical spread, age profile, employment status and health and social needs of the ex-service community in Northumberland is required to support the planning and commissioning of services; this information gap applies to the whole of the North East of England


The Royal British Legion (RBL 2006) has published figures which indicate the following:
  • There are an estimated 4.8 million veterans in the UK and 5.37 dependents.
  • 84% veterans are men.
  • veterans over 85 years will increase significantly over the next decade.
  • 60% of the adult ex-service community are aged over 65, this compares to 20% of the general adult population.
  • 31% of the ex-service community live alone compared to 19% of UK adults.
  • Younger members of the ex-service community are more prevalent in the North of the UK.
  • Based on the national profile, North East England has an estimated 200,000 veterans and 400,000 in the veteran community, a significant presence of ex-servicemen in North East England.
The 2011 Census reports that:
  • 1,258 people in Northumberland are employed in the armed forces (this represents 22% of the North East Armed Forces population).
  • Of these, 956 people live in households (18% of North East armed forces personnel in households) and 302 people are in communal establishments.
  • The number of people in communal establishments represents a high proportion (87%) of North East armed forces personnel living in communal establishments.

People who are homeless


  • Northumberland housing options and homelessness service received 1347 applications between April 2011 and March 2012, an increase of 20% compared to the same period in 2010/11.
  • 55% of the applications were successfully dealt with before the household became homeless, however, the number of households where the council has a statutory duty to rehouse increased by 22% from 188 in 2010/11 to 229 in 2011/12.
  • It is anticipated that this trend will continue to rise in the current economic climate.

Profile of households being accepted as homeless

The quarterly data returns on those households accepted as homeless reported to government provide information on household type and age of the lead applicant. The main points from this information are summarised below:
  • Household type: In 2011 and 2012, 67% of all acceptances were for households with or expecting dependent children. This is consistent with 2010 and 2011. Of those households with dependent children, 71% were lone parents with the majority (93%) being female lone parents
  • age: the majority of those accepted as homeless are aged between 25 to 44, which is 53% of all acceptances
However, from 2010/11 to 2011/12 there has been a 46% decrease in the number of 16 and 17 year olds accepted as homeless. This is a positive change and reflects the focused prevention work and the introduction of the young person protocol with children’s services.

People isolated and excluded

Isolation and exclusion is when a person lacks access to resources (social, public economic), inability to participate (economic, social, education, political) and exclusion from a good quality of life. People who live in rural communities, ex-offenders and male carers are examples of people in this category. 

Rural communities

Although people living in rural communities tend to have healthier lifestyles, national research shows that the prevalence of many diseases associated with ageing is higher. It is a combination of rurality and relative poverty that produces the higher figures.

The ageing population in rural areas means that a higher proportion of people receive an attendance allowance (a non-means tested benefit for people aged over 65 with a long term disability), than in urban areas.


  • The number of young people entering the criminal justice system for the first time has reduced. Data from Q3 2009/10 shows a 29.2% reduction in FTE's when compared to the baseline set in 2007/08 (NI111).
  • The rate of reoffending has also reduced (NI19) over the last few years and this is an LAA indicator for Northumberland.
  • A relatively low number of young people receive custodial sentences, thereby meaning that their needs are met and behaviours addressed within community settings.

Contact adult social care

Telephone: 01670 536 400
Email: Socialcare@northumbria.nhs.uk