Veterans support guidance launched

Guidance aimed at supporting GPs identify and meet the needs of veterans more effectively has been launched by the RCGP, The British Legion and Combat Stress.

Professor Field: ‘It is vital that as GPs, we are properly prepared to provide veterans with the care they deserve’
Professor Field: ‘It is vital that as GPs, we are properly prepared to provide veterans with the care they deserve’

The jointly-produced guidance provides advice to GPs on identifying veterans on their practice lists and encourages best practice when referring veterans for further care.

It also outlines how veterans can access priority treatment, along with advice on mental health needs, health behaviours, the provision of prostheses and hospital waiting lists.

The RCGP said around 8-10% of patients on a practice's list are veterans, which includes personnel who have served in the Armed Forces, as well as Merchant Navy seafarers. 

RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field said: ‘A large number of our patients in general practice are veterans or families of veterans from wars gone by or the recent or current conflicts in Iraq, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.

‘It is vital that as GPs, we are properly prepared and resourced to provide them with the care and services they so need and deserve.’

Dr Graham Wheatley, an ex military GP and RCGP representative on the defence medical services general practice education committee, added: 'Most GPs in the NHS will be amazed to find out that 8-10 % of patients of their lists used to veterans.

'I think part of that is because veterans in general are very self-reliant people, they don't like to make a fuss. But, it is still true that there are certain medical problems that they suffer from. They suffer from these problems because of the unusual situations they are asked to serve in, in order to protect their country and others.'

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