The responsibility for the healthcare of the 2.4 million veterans in the UK belongs with the NHS. Members of the ex-forces community should be encouraged to register with an NHS GP and tell them that they have served.
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). But this is always subject to clinical need and doesn’t entitle someone to jump the queue ahead of someone with a higher clinical need.
To support fair access to treatment, the Armed Forces Covenant sets out a number of health commitments for the Armed Forces community:
- The Armed Forces community should enjoy the same standard of, and access to healthcare as that received by any other UK citizen in the area they live.
- Family members should retain their place on any NHS waiting list, if moved around the UK due to the service person being posted.
- Veterans should receive priority treatment for a condition which relates to their service, subject to clinical need.
- Those injured in service should be cared for in a way which reflects the nation’s moral obligation to them, by healthcare professionals who have an understanding of the Armed Forces culture.
To find out more, visit: www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk.
Recent service leavers should give their F MED 133, Medical History on Release from HM Forces to the practice they register with.
Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
On Thursday 4 March 2021, Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England and NHS Improvement, Johnny Mercer, Minister for Defence People and Veterans and Kate Davies CBE, Director of Health and Justice, Armed Forces and Sexual Assault Services Commissioning, NHS England and NHS Improvement, officially launched the new NHS Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS), at the Veterans’ Mental Health Conference organised by Kings College London Centre for Military Health Research.
From October 2020, the HIS started to mobilise across England, providing a much needed service for veterans who are struggling with their mental health, are in a mental health crisis and / or need urgent and emergency care and treatment.
All NHS specialist veterans mental health services will now come under the name:
Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, which has been developed by veterans and their families.
Op Courage is part of a nine-point NHS plan to support the Armed Forces. The new name makes NHS veterans mental health services easier to find and access; a name that inspires hope and bravery and is inclusive and relevant to both the NHS and military life. The change provides a simplified name with a clear ‘front door’ to care and support.
For more information, visit the NHS website.
Military Veterans’ Specialist Mental Services in the North West
The Military Veterans’ Service (MVS), provided by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust (PCFT), in partnership with Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, have been successfully delivering specialist mental services across the North West of England since 2011.
MVS provide specialist psychological therapy to veterans in Greater Manchester and Lancashire. This typically includes complex presentations where the veteran’s needs cannot be sufficiently met in mainstream services. MVS’ expert team is overseen by consultant clinical psychologist Professor Alan Barrett.
PCFT also provide the Transition Intervention & Liaison Service (TILS) across the North West of England. TILS is front door to mental health services for Veterans in England regardless of how long ago they left service. TILS assess and support veterans into the most appropriate package of care according to the individual veteran’s needs.
For further information and to make a referral please follow the link below.
The below leaflets may also be of use.
Information for GP practices – Veteran Accreditation Scheme
There is a national scheme created by the Royal College of General Practitioners called the Armed Forces Veteran friendly accreditation. By gaining accreditation practices increase their awareness of the needs within the armed forces community and take action to meet those needs by improving the way they engage with veterans and offer services to them.