Veteran Health

Veteran Health

Acorn Surgery is proud to be accredited by the Royal College of General Practitioners as a Veteran Friendly Practice. We make sure staff are appropriately trained and that we can easily identify patients who are Veterans so that we can offer the most appropriate care and support. 

More than half of veterans (52%) have a long-term illness or disability, yet research suggests many may be reluctant to seek out support for their issues, particularly if they feel they may not be understood. With an estimated two million veterans in the UK, it’s likely that the average GP sees a veteran patient every day. Being able to identify and support veteran patients is crucial to ensuring best outcomes, as some veterans face different health challenges to the general population.

Who qualifies as a veteran in UK?

 Veterans are defined as anyone who has served for at least one day in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces (Regular or Reserve) or Merchant Mariners who have seen duty on legally defined military operations.

How our accreditation helps veterans

This Armed Forces Covenant states that the Armed Forces community, including veterans, should face no disadvantage in accessing health services and should receive priority care for military attributable conditions, subject to clinical need. Our accreditation supports us to provide the best care to our veteran patients. As well as capture health data to improve future provision of health services and ensure that the NHS is better able to meet the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant. 

Moreover, it is a fantastic opportunity to improve rapport with our veteran patients ensuring they feel more involved and connected. 

Do veterans get priority NHS treatment?

All veterans are entitled to priority NHS treatment for any condition related to their service. This includes veterans who don’t receive a war pension. Priority treatment includes assessment, treatment, aids and appliances for conditions accepted as being due to their service.

If you haven’t already done so please let us know if you, or your spouse or partner are a Veteran by emailing us at [email protected] or pop in and see us at Reception so our Veterans Champion can  make sure your medical record is updated and you have access to all the help you may need.

 For more information and helpful contact see the links below.

Mental Health Support

There is growing evidence that a range of mental health conditions may appear (or patients may present) some years after individuals have left the armed forces. These conditions may relate to combat, training or other military experiences, transition out of service or indeed pre-service vulnerabilities.

There are a number of services available to provide support including:

  • Op Courage: the Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
  • Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)
  • Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS)
  • The NHS Veterans Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS) for veterans needing urgent help who are in mental health crisis has been trialled in some regions since October 2020. It is now being rolled out across the country as part of a phased approach. Those needing urgent help will receive a same day referral.

Veterans can self-refer or be referred by their GP, a charity or family or friends to access specialist care through this single route of Op Courage see below:

Veterans Trauma Network (VTN)


The following nine Disablement Service Centres (DSCs) were selected to provide this support although veterans are free to attend the NHS DSC of their choice:

  • Bristol – Bristol Centre for Enablement, North Bristol NHS Trust
  • Leicester – Leicester Specialist Mobility Centre, provided by Blatchford Clinical Services on behalf of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)
  • Sheffield – Mobility and Specialised Rehabilitation Centre, Northern General Hospital
  • Carlisle – Disablement Services Centre, Cumberland Infirmary, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Preston – Specialist Mobility & Rehabilitation Centre, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Stanmore – Stanmore Prosthetic Rehabilitation Unit, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Trust
  • Portsmouth – Prosthetic Regional Rehabilitation Department, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Birmingham – West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Cambridge – Addenbrooke’s Rehabilitation Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Personalised care for veterans with a long term physical, mental or neurological health condition or disability

NHS England and NHS Improvement, together with the Ministry of Defence, have published the Personalised care for veterans in England, a guide for clinical commissioning groups and local authorities, which sets out a new personalised care approach for those veterans who have a long term physical, mental or neurological health condition or disability.

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.

Veterans Covenant Health Alliance

The Veterans Covenant Health Alliance is a network of over 30 acute hospitals that have been accredited as exemplars of the best care for veterans, helping to drive improvements in NHS care for people who serve or have served in the UK armed forces and their families.

The ambition is to have 75 NHS providers accredited by the end of 2019, with plans to expand this important initiative to mental health and ambulance trusts.

For more information please email [email protected] or visit the NHS website.

Mobility Equipment Support

The Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) provides emotional and practical support to the Armed Forces community when they are on a health care pathway, receiving treatment in hospital, community based health care, or at home. Veterans can be referred to DMWS or can contact DMWS directly.

For more information, visit Defence Medical Welfare Service website.

Other Services