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GPs urged to improve care for veterans

NHS England has urged GPs to sign up to a scheme to improve care for thousands of veterans and their families as part of an expansion of the service.

GPs have been sent a package of resources to help identify veterans and their needs, and have been invited to sign up to a national scheme labelling them as ‘veteran-friendly’.

The Veteran Aware Accreditation scheme, which launched in 2018, has had more thasn 150 practices sign up to it. However, the NHS aims for every practice to be signed up within five years.

It follows the promise made in the long-term plan in January, to deliver a ‘National Heroes Service’ for veterans.

The plans will also expand the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition Intervention and Liaison Service, which has received more than 6,780 referrals since it launched in April 2017.

Serving members of the armed forces will now be able to access care and treatment for their mental health before leaving the armed forces, as well as after.

NHS England said GPs would play a ‘leading role’ in the expansion of new and current services for armed services personnel to transition back into civilian life.

Dr Jonathan Leach, NHS England medical director for armed forces and veterans health said: ‘GPs play a key part in helping us to support veterans adapt to civilian life, and it is therefore vital that they understand their particular health needs in order to ensure that they get the right treatment and care.’

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘Our patients who are veterans often have complex physical and mental health requirements, and their families may also need support with their own health.

‘I’m delighted to see so many GP practices already signing up to become “veteran friendly”, and making sure that those needs are properly flagged, considered, and accommodated as veterans readjust to and manage ongoing civilian life.’

Earlier this month, a think tank called for wearable technology to be made available on the NHS for vulnerable patients to avoid health inequalities. 

It follows the news that GP practices in the North of England were being encouraged to set up food banks to help patients in need