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Whilst we remember, remember your health: Military veterans encouraged to tell their GP about their military service

Whilst we remember, remember your health: Military veterans encouraged to tell their GP about their military service
07 November 2018

Ahead of the centenary of the First World War, we're encouraging military veterans to access priority NHS treatment if they need it by telling their GP about their service.

A century ago, on 11 November 1918, the Great War ended, and a new world began. The example and experience of those who lived through it shaped the world we live in today.

However, many who returned from the front had varying and complex health care issues. In a time before the NHS, the needs of returning veterans were often overlooked.

Nowadays, with the existence of the NHS, when servicemen and women leave the Armed Forces, their healthcare is the responsibility of the NHS.

A veteran is someone who has served in the Armed Forces for at least one day. There are around 2.6 million veterans in the UK. Under the Armed Forces Covenant, all veterans are entitled to priority access to NHS care (including hospital, primary or community care) for conditions associated with their time within the Armed Forces (service related), subject to clinical need. This is regardless of whether veterans receive a war pension or not.

Dr Paul Bowen, our clinical chair and GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton said: “We recognise that veterans may have distinct physical and mental health needs and that the wounds of war can go far beyond what meets the eye. From mental health issues to pain and illness that persist long after they've left the battlefield, veterans face a multitude of health troubles either unique to their service or problems that are more frequent among them than the general population who have not served in the military.

“As such, it is highly important for their continuing healthcare that veterans register with an NHS GP and remember to tell them they have served. Telling the GP practice about their veteran status will trigger the transfer of their full medical documentation from the Ministry of Defence to their GP and enable them to benefit from veteran-specific services like prosthetics and mental health.

“So, this Remembrance Sunday, as we remember those who fought for our country and freedom, I’m encouraging all veterans to remember their health and tell their GP about their veteran status.”

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