GPs across the country are signing up to become veteran friendly in a new NHS England scheme…

Practices are able to qualify to veteran friendly status if they offer additional support for ex-servicemen and women who could face additional challenges when returning to daily civilian life.

Labelled the Military Veteran Aware Accreditation, the scheme has now been adopted by NHS England and the Royal College of GPs as a nationwide initiative so practitioners can better identify and treat any issues veterans might face.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs said: “Veterans often have unique health needs, and this new scheme is a fantastic way of ensuring that when they visit their GP, for whatever reason, these needs are flagged up, considered and accommodated.”

The expansion follows a successful pilot in the West Midlands where 90 GP practices have signed up so far.

Dr Mike Brookes is a North Yorkshire GP who served in Iraq. He came up with the idea when a patient told him he had specifically joined his practice for someone who could understand his needs as a veteran.

Dr Brookes said: “It made me reflect on a potential unmet need for our veterans. I could see how pivotal a GP practice could be at identifying ex-service personnel to help ensure they receive care and treatment that is considerate of their time in the armed forces.”

Dr Jonathan Leach, a GP, who served in the army for 25 years and chairs the NHS England Armed Forces Clinical Reference Group, said: “We are committed to providing veterans with a seamless, high quality service when it comes to their health needs.

“Our priority is to make sure that no matter where a veteran lives in the country, they will have access to a GP who understands their military related health needs and supports them to get the right treatment and support.”