Message from Tracy Williams, Norfolk and Waveney ICB Clinical Lead for Health Inequalities & Inclusion Health
“There are currently well over 1000 practices with GP Veteran Friendly Accreditation in England and some of those are in Norfolk and Waveney. The RCGP updates a list of accredited practices every month and has an interactive map on their website. The ICS is working with the Norfolk Armed Forces Covenant Board to support other practices to come forward to ensure veterans and their families receive the appropriate help they need to access health and care services by being more inclusive and making reasonable adjustments to address health inequalities.
As there are approximately two million veterans in the UK most practices on average will see a veteran patient every day. Social prescribers and Early Help Hubs can also play an important role in assisting service leavers and veterans integrate into civilian life. The practice where I work has recently signed up to be veteran friendly and it was an easy process to follow with great training resources for all the primary care team, we all learnt a great deal to be able to support our patients from the armed forces community.”
As part of the NHS’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, the Veteran Friendly GP Scheme aims to help surgeries meet the specific health needs of armed forces veterans. These may include:
- Physical injuries sustained on active duty.
- Poor mental health following exposure to traumatic events.
- Alcohol / drug dependency.
- Those experiencing difficulties transitioning back into civilian life from the military
Practices can apply for the RCGP’s Veteran Friendly accreditation to find out how to best support veterans. The process to gain accreditation under the Veteran Friendly GP Scheme is straightforward and can be done online in a few minutes: Accreditation Form.
Surgeries will need to:
- Ask patients registering with the surgery if they have ever served in the British Armed Forces.
- Code it on the GP computer system. We recommend writing it out rather than using Read codes as these vary according to which computer system is used. We recommend that the term ‘Military Veteran’ is used.
- Identify a clinical lead for Veterans in the surgery who is a registered health care professional: GP, nurse or paramedic.
- Have a CQC ‘good’ rating or higher to be eligible.
Where can I get support?
If you would like some extra support to become a veteran friendly practice there’s lots of help available online via the links below.
If your practice or PCN would like to hear a presentation from the Armed Forces Commissioner, please contact email@example.com or 01603 228871.
Dr Andrew Hayward, South Norfolk GP (retired) is working with the Armed Forces Commissioner to encourage veteran friendly practices. For an informal discussion and the opportunity to ask questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Op RESTORE leaflet – information about GP referral into an NHS service that ensures those who have served in the UK Armed Forces access the right NHS treatment for significant, continuing physical injuries and illnesses caused by their time in the Armed Forces.
RCGPs Veterans’ Healthcare Toolkit – provides a comprehensive overview of all the pathways for referral and treatment of mental health difficulties and physical injuries.
The Veterans’ Gateway provides a 24/7 one-stop shop for support to veterans and their families covering all aspects of life.
Hints and tips to raise awareness of your practice’s support for the armed forces community
- Sign up for the GP Veteran Friendly Accreditation scheme
- When accredited as GP Veteran Friendly display the logo on your website and in the practice for all to see – those online and those who aren’t
- Ask your team to always ask patients if they or a member of their immediate family have served or are serving in the armed forces
- Ask your team if they or an immediate member of their family have served or are serving in the armed forces and if there is any additional support they need.
- Sell poppies during the period of Remembrance
- If you have a flagpole why not raise a flag during armed forces week