A veteran is someone who has served in the armed forces for at least 1 day. There are around 2.6 million veterans in the UK.
When servicemen and women leave the armed forces, their healthcare is the responsibility of the NHS.
It’s highly important for continuing healthcare that you register with an NHS GP and remember to tell them you have served.
Telling the GP practice about your veteran status will trigger the transfer of your full medical documentation from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to your GP, and enable you to benefit from veteran-specific services like prosthetics and mental health.
‘No disadvantage’ – You shouldn’t be disadvantaged from accessing appropriate health services, so it’s important that you notify your current GP that you’re moving, particularly if you’re on a waiting list for medical treatment, so this information can be transferred across.
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 ensure 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 service organisations, such as the Royal British Legion, to support you.
At Lordshill Health Centre we offer welfare checks via our local social prescriber. If this is something that you would be interested in please do not hesitate to contact the practice and get this booked.
Improving care for severely injured veterans
NHS England hosts the Veterans Trauma Network, which aims to provide specialist care for patients with service-related traumatic injuries.
The network comprises of 10 major trauma centres across England:
- London (3 centres)
The network acts as a regional hub for veteran care, linking with NHS veterans mental health services, national centres of expertise and key service charities to provide a complete package of care.
Patients referred to the service have a personalised treatment plan developed and provided by a specialist team of military and civilian experts in trauma. As part of this, the needs of families and carers are also considered.
If you’re supporting a veteran or veterans who you feel may benefit from referral to this service, BLESMA is the umbrella charity for the veteran’s trauma network and can be contacted by:
- email: [email protected]
- phone: 020 8548 7080
Referrals to the network can also be made via a GP, Blind Veterans UK and Style for Soldiers.
For further information on the service or referrals, email:
Armed forces healthcare
The NHS has published a range of information to help serving military personnel and veterans access the health services they need. Find out more about how the NHS can help you if you’re in military service, a veteran or a family member of someone who is serving or who has served here.
Serving personnel receive their mental health care through services commissioned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Mental health services work alongside community-based mental health services, to ensure they follow national best practice guidelines.
Care is offered at military Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMH) across the UK (and smaller centres abroad), which provide outpatient mental health care. Inpatient mental health care services in the UK are provided under contract by a partnership of eight NHS Trusts including Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. Click here for more information.
Serving personnel can also call the Military Mental Health Helpline on 0800 323 4444.
More information on mental health services available to support serving military personnel is available here.
Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health or wellbeing, expert help is available from Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service.
You can contact the service yourself or ask your GP, a charity or someone else, such as a family member or friend, to do this for you. The service will arrange for you to have an assessment, to make sure you get the right care and support.
Op COURAGE can help your family get care and support from local services. With your permission, they can also be involved in your care plan.
If you experience a mental health crisis you can contact Op COURAGE or
- call 111
- book an emergency GP appointment
- Visit an Emergency Department or call 999 if it is an emergency