The Elms Medical Practice
Armed Forces Veterans Patient Protocol
The Armed Forces Covenant states the following:
- 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 that reflects the nation’s moral obligation to them, by healthcare professionals who have an understanding of the Armed Forces culture.
A veteran is anyone who has served for at least one day in the Armed Forces, whether regular or reserve. It means the same as ‘ex service personnel’ or ‘ex-forces’, although not all veterans know, choose or want to associate with the term ‘veteran’. This is particularly the case amongst younger veterans who often refer to themselves as ‘ex-forces’, due to the common belief that a veteran is someone who fought in the First / Second World War.
When you register with this practice, please let us know if you have served in the Armed Forces (our practice new patient questionnaire asks the specific question and GMS1 registration form also includes the same question.) if you have served we will add ‘Military Veteran’ to your computer medical record. We will also add a note to any patient who tells us they are a ‘Member of Military Family’.
Knowing whether you are a veteran will help us to determine if any health issues you have are attributable to your time in service. Of course you may prefer to keep this private because you are concerned about disclosing information about your time in the Armed Forces due to confidentiality agreements that you have signed. It is entirely at your discretion.
But please be aware that by knowing this information there are sometimes additional or different referral pathways available which may be more suitable for ex-forces, such as the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and the Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS). For more information, visit the NHS website. If you have been injured during your time in service, there is also the Veterans Trauma Network, which is aligned with the TILS and CTS. For further information, visit the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/military-healthcare/priority-nhs-treatment-for-veterans/
Veterans may also benefit from using the Veterans Gateway https://www.veteransgateway.org.uk/ which provides information, advice and support on a range of areas (telephone: 0808 802 1212) and the Big White Wall https://www.bigwhitewall.com/v2/LandingV2.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f which is a free online mental health resource.
When we refer a veteran to secondary care, we will ensure that your veteran status is noted in the referral letter, as you may be entitled to priority treatment if your condition is attributable to your time in service.
Treatment for veterans is normally the same as for the wider population; it is the context, language and understanding of their Armed Forces experiences that is important.