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Veterans not benefitting from NHS rights

23rd September 2010

A survey has revealed that ex-servicemen and women are not always benefiting from changes which entitle them to priority treatment on the NHS.

soldier

New guidelines - jointly from the Royal College of GPs, the Royal British Legion and Combat Stress - are to be issued to family doctors to help them identify service personnel in their care to help them get the treatment they need more quickly.

It comes after Combat Stress, which helps soldiers with mental health problems, discovered there were often delays before ex-service personnel sought help.

And it has also emerged that many GPs were unaware of the changes that meant veterans could be fast-tracked for treatment.

Royal College of GPs chairman Professor Steve Field said a large number of GPs' patients were veterans of past wars or more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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

Combat Stress said it was important that front-line NHS staff could spot post-traumatic stress caused by military service and respond quickly.

Spokesman Peter Poole said: “On average, the veterans who seek help from us come to us 14 years after service discharge. Too often this delay can lead to marriage break-up, unemployment, social isolation and substance misuse - in short, a total unravelling of a normal life."

The Department of Health is working with the Ministry of Defence to replace the way medical records are passed to the NHS after discharge.

 

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