Joining forces on healthcare for veterans

Publication date: 05 June 2019

Veteran healthcare and how it can be delivered effectively and seamlessly across the NHS is the theme of a unique event, hosted by the Royal College of GPs and the NHS Veterans Trauma Network today (5 June).

It will look at the impact of physical injury and associated mental health issues on veterans – and the impact on their families – bringing together GPs and the wide range of health professionals 'under one roof' for clinical conversations on the care of those leaving the Armed Forces community.

Critically, it will be an opportunity to network with veterans themselves who will talk about their own experiences. It will also showcase the College's 'veteran friendly' GP practices initiative, supporting GPs and their teams so that patients who are veterans of the armed forces and their families get access to targeted care where appropriate.

The event is being supported by the Ministry of Defence and NHS England and NHS Improvement and will feature a video message from Veterans Minister Tobias Ellwood highlighting the importance of good quality care for veterans and their families,  and what is being done at Government level to support those returning to civilian life after serving in the armed forces. Kate Davies CBE, NHS England and NHS Improvement Director for Armed Forces Health will also speak about what the NHS has done and is continuing to do to support the military community.

There are around 2.6 million veterans in Great Britain, and 18,000 service people move back into civilian life every year, including 2,000 who leave the armed forces on medical grounds.

The event will look at the links between physical and mental health, especially in the treatment of chronic pain, and how to provide services that will accommodate the different health needs of 'different'generations of veterans – World War 2 era, Falklands and Northern Ireland age groups and former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dr Jonathan Leach, Joint Honorary Secretary for the RCGP, said: "Our veterans have differing and complex injuries as a result of their military service and they may need targeted advice, treatment and support: This forum will reflect the importance of the relationship between patient, GP and specialists across the NHS pathway.

"GPs want to do the very best for all our patients, but one of the challenges we face in general practice is that we are not always aware of how many veterans we have on our practice lists, especially when patients choose not to divulge their veteran status.

"This event will support family doctors and other health professionals in becoming more aware of the needs of their patients who are armed forces veterans, and make sure that healthcare professionals are aware of the various referral pathways to specialist help, including Veterans Trauma Network and Veterans' Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison (TIL) Service.

"These people have served our country, often the detriment of their own health and the stability of their family life. We owe them a great deal, not least in making sure that they have access to high quality NHS care and services."

The important event is part of ongoing activity to improve the care and treatment of veterans. This includes the recent distribution of  a comprehensive package of resources for GPs covering how to identify veterans and make sure their service is recognised by hospitals and other services, as well as how to access mental and physical health care tailored to their needs.

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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