The NHS has a duty to deliver on a number of health commitments in relation to the Armed Forces community (service personnel (regular and reserves), their families and veterans), which are set out in the Armed Forces Covenant and the NHS Constitution.
The NHS Constitution states ‘the NHS will ensure that in line with the Armed Forces Covenant, those in the Armed Forces, reservists, their families and veterans are not disadvantaged in accessing health services in the area they reside’.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
RCGP Veteran Accredited Practice