The NHS and veterans’ healthcare information web site is a very useful resource.
All veterans are entitled to priority access to NHS care (including hospital, primary or community care) for conditions associated with their time within the armed forces (service-related). This is always subject to clinical need and doesn’t entitle you to jump the queue ahead of someone with a higher clinical need.
If the NHS service you’re dealing with is unaware of priority treatment, you’re actively encouraged to tell them about it and make sure you have told them you have served.
Failing that, you can enlist local health care commissioners, your local authority community covenant lead or one of the national services organisations, such as the Royal British Legion, to support you.
Armed Forces Veterans friendly accredited GP practices
GPs are signing up to become ‘veteran friendly’ under a new national scheme to improve medical care and treatment for former members of the armed services that has been backed by NHS England and the Royal College of GPs.
Practices can qualify for veteran friendly status by offering extra support for ex-military personnel who may face additional challenges when they return to civilian life.
To become accredited, GP practices need to:
- have a lead for veterans’ issues within the surgery.
- identify and flag veterans on their computer system.
- undertake dedicated training and attend armed forces healthcare meetings.
- increase understanding of the health needs of veterans amongst both clinical and administrative staff.
NHS Veterans Aware Hospitals
Veteran Aware hospitals will:
- Provide leaflets and posters to veterans and their families explaining what to expect
- Train relevant staff to be aware of veterans’ needs and the commitments of the NHS under the Armed Forces Covenant
- Inform staff if a veteran or their GP has told the hospital they have served in the armed forces
- Ensure that the armed forces community do not face disadvantage compared to other citizens when accessing NHS services
- Signpost to extra services that might be provided to the armed forces community by a charity or service organisation in the hospital
- Look into what services are available in their locality, which patients would benefit from being referred to after a hospital stay.
The veterans aware hospital recognition means that patients who have served in the UK armed forces will be cared for by frontline staff who have received training and education on their specific needs and who can also signpost them to other local support services e.g. Mental Health.
For more information, visit the NHS Veteran Aware Hospitals website.