NHS care for the Armed Forces community
The NHS is responsible for providing all hospital and most community services for serving personnel (except for mental health, general practice and rehabilitation services). The NHS also provides nearly all community, general practice and hospital services for the families of serving personnel, reservists and veterans. Included as part of this are the following dedicated services and initiatives to support the Armed Forces community.
How to get the most from your GP
1. It is important to register with a GP, rather than wait until you need treatment. Visit the NHS website to find details of GP practices in your local area.
2. If you’ve recently left the forces, it is important to give your GP the paperwork that your military medical centre gave you, including any medical records. This will help to make sure your military health record transfers to your NHS health record. This will also give your GP information on your health and ensure that any ongoing care and treatment is continued.
3. Regardless of when you left the military, tell your GP that you’ve served in the UK Armed Forces. This will help your GP to better understand any military related health conditions that you may have and ensure that you are referred, where appropriate, to dedicated services for veterans.
This includes the specialist mental and physical health services, Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service and the Veterans Trauma Network.
When using these services, you will be able to speak to people who:
- Understand the Armed Forces and military life
- Are either from the Armed Forces community or highly experienced in working with serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families
- Will work with you to make sure you get the right type of specialist care, support, and treatment
- Work closely with a range of organisations and charities, including military charities, to support your wider health and wellbeing needs.
4. With your agreement, it can sometimes be helpful for your doctor to refer you to Armed Forces charities, such as SSAFA, the Royal British Legion, Combat Stress or Help for Heroes. They can often offer significant help and support, even if they do not all deliver healthcare.
5. You may be worried about sharing information about your time in the Armed Forces. Please note that the NHS is bound by a confidentiality code of practice to ensure GPs, nurses and other people working within the NHS deliver a confidential service bound by law.
NHS mental health services for veterans
The Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) is for serving personnel approaching discharge from the military, reservists (active and non-active) and veterans with mental health difficulties. The service provides a range of treatment, from recognising the early signs of mental health problems and providing access to early support, to therapeutic treatment for complex mental health difficulties and psychological trauma. Help may also be provided with housing, employment, alcohol misuse and social support.
The Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) is for ex-forces and reservists (active and non-active) who have military related complex mental health difficulties that have not improved with previous treatment. The service provides intensive care and treatment that may include (but is not limited to) support for drug and alcohol misuse, physical health, employment, housing, relationships and finances, as well as occupational and trauma focused therapies.
Both services are available across England and accessible via the TILS. Individuals can self-refer or ask a GP or military charity to refer them. As part of their service offer, families are supported to access care and treatment where appropriate. Further information is available on nhs website and a PDF document can be downloaded here.
Veterans Trauma Network (VTN)
The VTN provides care and treatment to those with a service-attributable physical health condition. Located in 12 major trauma centres (Plymouth, Oxford, London (three centres), Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Cambridge, Brighton and Middlesbrough), with links to five specialist NHS trusts (Frimley Park, Preston, Salisbury, East Grinstead), the network works closely with Defence Medical Services (DMS), national centres of clinical expertise, the TILS and CTS, as well as military charities, to provide a complete package of care. It is run largely by healthcare professionals who are either veterans or serving personnel. GPs can email firstname.lastname@example.org to refer veterans to the service.
Veterans Prosthetics Panel (VPP)
The VPP provides funding on a named veteran basis to NHS Disablement Service Centres (DSC) to ensure that veterans who have service related limb loss can access high quality prosthetics regardless of which DSC they attend. More information here.
Armed Forces personnel in transition: Integrated Personal Commissioning for Veterans Framework (IPC4V)
IPC4V is a personalised care approach for serving personnel who have complex and enduring physical, neurological and mental health conditions that are attributable to injury whilst in service. It provides a framework for effectively planning and delivering personalised care in line with the Armed Forces Covenant. Central to this is an improved discharge planning process, starting approximately nine months before these individuals leave the military. This means that the MOD, health and social care, Armed Forces charities and other organisations involved in the care of these individuals are brought together at an earlier point in the care pathway, ensuring care and support arrangements are in place as they transition to civilian life and beyond.
Personalised care for veterans with a long term physical, mental or neurological health condition or disability
Ex-forces with a complex and life-long health condition may be eligible for the veterans personalised care programme. Eligible individuals will have a single personalised care plan for all their health and wellbeing needs that is developed with them and a range of organisations, including health and social care and military charities. To apply, individuals should contact their local clinical commissioning group.
Veteran friendly GP practice accreditation
Over the next five years, NHS England and NHS Improvement, together with the Royal College of General Practitioners, are rolling out the veteran friendly GP practice accreditation scheme across England. This scheme, which is intended to help ensure practices are equipped to best care for veterans and their families, has already accredited over 770 surgeries.
The Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA)
The VCHA aims to improve NHS care for the Armed Forces community by supporting trusts, health boards and other providers to identify, develop and showcase the best standards of care. To date, over 40 trusts have been accredited as 'Veteran Aware’, having demonstrated their commitment to eight core manifesto standards, including signing the Armed Forces Covenant, raising awareness of veterans’ healthcare needs among staff, and establishing links with local support providers.
For Further Information
INDEX - Self-Help-Centre
- MyGP App
- Health A - Z
- Live Well
- Age Well
- Connect Well West Kent
- Armed Forces Veterans
- Blood Pressure
- BMI Calculator
- Carers and Caring
- Kent Young Carers
- Dental Problems
- Childhood Wellbeing
- IAPT (Self-Referrals)
- Local Health & Wellbeing
- NHS - Self Care Videos
- One You Kent
- Pharmacy First
- Stop Smoking
- Take the Health Quiz
- Youth Matters
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