We are an Armed Forces veteran friendly accredited GP practice.
This means that, as part of the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant, we have a dedicated clinician; Dr Chris Reid who has a specialist knowledge of military related health conditions and veteran specific health services. This is important in helping ex-forces to get the best care and treatment.
If you are ex-forces, please let your GP know to help ensure you are getting the best possible care.
How to get the most from your GP
- It is important to register with a GP, rather than wait until you need treatment. Visit the NHS website at www.nhs.uk to find details of GP practices in your local area.
- If you’ve recently left the forces, it is important to give your GP the paperwork that your military medical centre gave you, including any medical records. This will help to make sure your military health record transfers to your NHS health record. This will also give your GP information on your health and ensure that any ongoing care and treatment is continued.
- Regardless of when you left the military, tell your GP that you’ve served in the UK Armed Forces. This will help your GP to better understand any military related health conditions that you may have and ensure that you are referred, where appropriate, to dedicated services for veterans.
This includes the specialist mental and physical health services, Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service and the Veterans Trauma Network.
When using these services, you will be able to speak to people who:
- understand the Armed Forces and military life
- are either from the Armed Forces community or highly experienced in working with serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families
- will work with you to make sure you get the right type of specialist care, support, and treatment
- work closely with a range of organisations and charities, including military charities, to support your wider health and wellbeing needs.
- With your agreement, it can sometimes be helpful for your doctor to refer you to Armed Forces charities, such as SSAFA, the Royal British Legion, Combat Stress or Help for Heroes. They can often offer significant help and support, even if they do not all deliver healthcare.
- You may be worried about sharing information about your time in the Armed Forces. Please note that the NHS is bound by a confidentiality code of practice to ensure GPs, nurses and other people working within the NHS deliver a confidential service bound by law.
What dedicated NHS services and support are available to veterans?
Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
In March 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement announced the new name for its veterans mental health services; Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service. This is the new overarching name for the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition.
Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS). The new name has been developed following feedback from veterans and their families to make it easier for those leaving the military and veterans to find help. Op COURAGE provides specialist care and support for Service leavers, reservists, veterans and their families who can self refer or ask a GP, charity or someone else to refer them
For further information on Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, including the contact details for the service in your region, visit www.nhs.uk/opcourage
Veterans Trauma Network (VTN)
The VTN is the first NHS veterans’ physical health care pathway, providing care and treatment to those with a service-attributable healthcare problem. Located in thirteen major trauma centres (Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Liverpool, London (three centres), Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Oxford and Plymouth) across England, the VTN works closely with Defence Medical Services, national centres of clinical expertise and Op COURAGE, as well as military charities to provide a complete package of care. It is run largely by healthcare professionals who are either veterans or serving members of the Armed Forces. GPs can use a single national email to refer veterans to the service (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Veterans’ Prosthetics Panel (VPP) was established in 2012 as a way of ensuring that veterans can access high quality prosthetics regardless of which Disablement Service Centre (DSC) they attend. This additional funding is available only to veterans who have lost a limb whilst in military service. A veteran who has left the Armed Forces, but whose limb loss is attributable to an injury sustained whilst in service, also qualifies. Veterans who lose limbs after they leave the military or suffer limb loss whilst in the military, but not in a service attributable incident, such as in a civilian road traffic accident, will continue to access services as usual through their local DSC.
The additional funding for eligible veterans is for treatment that would not typically be provided by the NHS, for example higher specification prostheses than are normally available on the NHS. Funding is approved on a case by case basis, with DSCs making individual funding applications to the VPP, which set out the expected requirement and benefit if the request is supported. More information is available on the NHS webpage on services for veterans with physical injuries.
Eligible veterans are also able to access the Complex Prosthetics Assessment Clinic (CPAC), which is run by Defence Medical Rehabilitation services. CPAC supports veterans with particularly complex prosthetic socket needs who have previously been seen at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court.
Personalised care programme for ex-forces with a long term physical, mental or neurological health condition or disability
NHS England and NHS Improvement, together with the Ministry of Defence, have published the Personalised care for veterans in England, a guide for clinical commissioning groups and local authorities, which sets out a personalised care approach for those veterans who have a long term physical, mental or neurological health condition or disability.
This guide is for individuals and organisations who are leading or involved in supporting this patient group through the delivery of NHS Continuing Health Care or a jointly agreed care plan. A supporting patient leaflet is also available.
Eligible individuals will have a single personalised care plan for all their health and wellbeing needs that is developed with them and a range of organisations, including health and social care and military charities. This approach will give the individual more choice and control over how their care is planned and delivered, meaning they can choose how best to live their life and get the right care and support to make this happen. It will also take into account personal preferences that relate specifically to the individual’s military service. As part of this, they may get a personal budget to pay for some of the care and support they need, as well as more support in the community, such as emotional and practical support from people who have similar health conditions or disabilities. To apply, individuals should contact their local clinical commissioning group.
The Veterans Covenant Health Alliance (VCHA)
The VCHA aims to improve NHS care for the Armed Forces community by supporting trusts, health boards and other providers to identify, develop and showcase the best standards of care. Over 70trusts have already been accredited as ‘Veteran Aware’, having demonstrated their commitment to eight core manifesto standards, including signing the Armed Forces Covenant, raising awareness of veterans’ healthcare needs among staff, and establishing links with local support providers. The VCHA is working with many more trusts to achieve accreditation. For further information, visit the webpage for Veteran Aware hospitals and the Veteran Aware website
More information on NHS services for veterans can be found on the NHS website here.
What other services are available to veterans?
Hearing loss and tinnitus services
In-service (MOD DMS) and veteran (NHS) provided hearing devices are provided to meet a clinical need. Veterans requiring hearing devices and tests should access via their GP and local provision, where NHS providers will be able to take account of service-related hearing issues. Private providers may, at personal cost, be able to provide non-standard equipment and devices.
More information on hearing aids: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hearing-aids-and-implants/
Mobility equipment support
The Royal British Legion has a Veterans’ Mobility Fund, which provides specialist wheelchairs, orthotic equipment and other mobility related items for veterans who have a service related serious physical injury and whose needs cannot be met through statutory services. Eligibility for the fund requires the condition to be attributable to service and typically applicants will be in receipt of a War Pension or relevant award under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. To find out more, visit the Veterans Mobility Fund section on The Royal British Legion website.
The Veterans’ Gateway is made up of a consortium of organisations and Armed Forces charities, including The Royal British Legion, SSAFA, Combat Stress and Connect Assist. It is a main point of contact for veterans seeking support, putting them and their families in touch with the organisations best placed to help with the information, advice and support they need healthcare and housing to employability, finances, personal relationships and more. For more information, visit the Veterans’ Gateway website.
Contact is a group of charitable, support and state organisations that have joined forces to enhance mental health support available to the Armed Forces community. The partnership consists of Big White Wall, Cobseo, Combat Stress, Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion, Walking With The Wounded, the NHS, the MOD, the UK Psychological Trauma Society and King’s College London. Contact aims to improve collaborative care management, increase instances of help-seeking behaviour, improve service provision, encourage best practice across the sector and improve public knowledge of what support is available and how best to access it. For more information, visit the Contact website.
Cobseo, as the Confederation of Service Charities, offers membership to charities who promote and further the welfare and general interests of the Armed Forces community, subject to fulfilling the membership criteria. Comprising 255 members, Cobseo provides a single point of contact for interaction with the Armed Forces community. For more information, visit the Cobseo website.
Help for Heroes
Help for Heroes provides direct, practical support for wounded, injured and sick service personnel, veterans and their loved ones from any conflict. They have four recovery centres in the UK offering medical care, guidance, support and advice. Patients can self-refer or be referred by a professional. Once referred, an initial assessment will take place within one to two weeks and there is no waiting list for treatment. For further information, visit the Help for Heroes website.
Combat Stress is the UK’s leading mental health charity for veterans. It provides free specialised clinical treatment and support to ex-servicemen and women across the UK with mental health conditions. Combat Stress has a strategic partnership with the MOD and the Department of Health and Social Care. This enables the charity to work with NHS mental health to develop services suitable for military veterans. For further information, visit the Combat Stress website.
Blesma supports limbless veterans to lead independent and fulfilling lives. Blesma is dedicated to assisting serving and ex-service men and women who have suffered life-changing limb loss or the use of a limb, an eye or loss of sight. They support these men and women in their communities throughout the UK and provide centralised assistance to those living overseas.
Blesma works closely with the NHS to ensure the latest advances in the relevant medical fields are converted into practical solutions that can benefit all of their members. They do not provide members prosthetics, but they do help prosthetists develop their skills at undergraduate and PhD level.
For further information, visit the Blesma website.
The NHS want to hear people’s views about mental and physical health services for veterans in England
Please see the attached survey and letter from the NHS to find out people’s views and experiences of veterans mental and physical health services.
Veterans Health & Wellbeing April 2022