A total of 880 practices have so far been accredited as ‘veteran friendly’ under the RCGP’s veteran aware accreditation scheme, the organisation told Management in Practice.
The scheme, which is backed by NHS England, was introduced in 2018 to improve medical care and treatment for former armed service members.
The accreditation scheme requires practices to have a lead for veterans’ issues within the surgery and to facilitate training to understand those needs.
A target was set in December for each primary care network to have a veteran-friendly practice by 2022. However, the RCGP says it currently does not have the tools in place to measure the progress toward this goal.
Partnerships improving care for veterans
NHS England and Improvement is currently working to provide veterans with a ‘joined-up’ healthcare experience, it said in a companion guide to the NHS Long Term Plan, published last week (4 March).
The guide said that it was committed to achieving ‘a more joined-up experience of care for serving personnel and their families as they move around the country, and transition from service to civilian life’.
It said that a ‘joined-up, personalised approach’ to a former armed service member’s healthcare, particularly for those living with complex injuries, can be difficult to find and retain.
‘Many of the veterans treated by the VTN [Veterans’ Prosthetics Panel] have complex mental health, chronic pain and physical health issues,’ said the report, adding that joint VTN clinics with NHS-led veterans mental health services are being piloted in London.
Supporting families in the armed forces community
NHSE&I will work with commissioners and providers to help prevent serving personnel and their families losing out on healthcare when moving homes, it said.
It said: ‘Those in the Armed Forces community who are on a waiting list for treatment should never lose their place on a waiting list if they move from one area to another.’
This commitment would ensure these families are not ‘disadvantaged by the frequency of their moves’, which it said ‘should not result in a reduction in the quality of care or a gap in the provision of services’.
Additionally, the report said it will partner with the Ministry of Defence to provide quality healthcare ‘regardless of where commissioning responsibilities lie’.
For example, a jointly developed Catterick Integrated Care Campus (CICC) in North Yorkshire would operate as ‘a single integrated care hub’ to include primary care, social care and mental health services.
The report pointed to a 2019 study which suggested that partners and spouses also have an increased risk of developing mental health difficulties ‘if their serving partner is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)’.