In June 1997 the NHS published guidelines relating to the priority treatment of war pensioners, and this was updated in December 2007. From 1st January 2008, all service veterans should receive priority access to NHS care for any condition which is likely to relate to their military service. This is also subject to fair treatment of all other patients based on clinical needs. Several special mental health schemes have also been established.
The purpose of this protocol is to raise awareness of the requirements in relation to veterans and to summarise the DoH guidance on the subject.
Many conditions do not become obvious until after a veteran has left military service, therefore all GPs should be aware of the government wish to prioritise care of this nature and consider the military aspects of a condition when diagnosing and referring to secondary care.
The July 2015 update to the NHS Constitution ensures that, in line with the Armed Forces Covenant, military veterans are supported, treated equally and receive the same standard of, and access to, healthcare as any other UK citizen in the area they live.
For those with concerns about their mental health who may not present for some time after leaving Service, they should be able to access services with health professionals who have an understanding of Armed Forces culture. Veterans who have lost a limb as a result of their service will be able to access prostheses that reflect their clinical need. Veterans receive their healthcare from the NHS and are encouraged to identify themselves to their GP as member of the Armed Forces Community.