Brigadier Robin G Simpson QHS, RCGP Veterans Clinical Champion
The Veteran Friendly Practices accreditation programme was launched on the 5 June 2019 as the centrepiece of a workshop and forum held at the RCGP with Veterans Trauma Network, NHS England and NHS Improvement. Positive feedback came from veterans, who shared their experiences of the NHS in their 'recovery' journeys following serious trauma. Further support came from The Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence People and Veterans. In his message he pushed the RCGP to offer accreditation to GP Surgeries across England.
There are 2.4 million UK Armed Forces Veterans in Great Britain, making up an 5% of the population aged 16 and over. Almost two-thirds of veterans are aged 65 years and over and majority are male. In addition to veterans, there are about 5.4 million adult spouses, partners, widowers and child dependants (overall mainly female) of veterans. About 18,000 service people move back into civilian life every year, including 2,000 who leave on medical grounds. However, there is evidence that GPs are unsure of how many veterans are registered with their practices and need more guidance on how to meet the health needs of this patient group.
'A simple process where practices are required to meet specified criteria and provide evidence that they are supportive of veterans’ healthcare'
The RCGP is working alongside NHS England and NHS Improvement to accredit practices as ‘Veteran Friendly’. This involves a simple process where practices are required to meet specified criteria and provide evidence that they are supportive of veterans’ healthcare. After a successful pilot in the RCGP Midland Faculty, the programme is being rolled out nationally across England (and hopefully the rest of UK in due course). This work is fully supported by the Government and Defence Committee. There are now more than 180 accredited GP Veteran Friendly Surgeries across England.
This is a voluntary initiative; however, it is hoped that GPs will want to take part to help with the local identification of veterans. Knowing that a patient is a veteran will help the NHS to better meet the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant, whereby the armed forces community, including veterans, should face no disadvantage in accessing health services and should receive priority care for military attributable conditions, subject to the clinical need of others.
Please see the below links to veteran related directories for help and support along with further information :