Drive to improve awareness of veterans’ health needs goes nationwide.

Veterans and armed forces families are set to benefit from more tailored healthcare under a new GP scheme focused on the specific health challenges they may face following military service.

The General Practice Armed Forces and Veterans Recognition Scheme is now open to GP surgeries across Scotland following a successful pilot.

The scheme provides easy access training materials for GPs to help increase understanding of veterans’ needs and the range of healthcare support that can be provided. The specific issues faced by veterans and Armed Forces families will also set out in clinical case studies to help improve understanding among GPs.

Visiting Kirriemuir Medical Practice, which is one of the first to sign up to the scheme, Veterans Minister Graeme Dey said:

“This is an important step forward in providing more support and I encourage GP surgeries to find out more about this scheme. The pilot has already had a significant impact in helping veterans and armed forces families, and that will only increase as more GPs sign up.

“We are working hard to support our veterans and armed forces community in Scotland. This is especially important at this time of year as we remember and recognise the sacrifices they have made to keep us safe.”

Kirriemuir Practice GP Scott Jamieson said:

“As a Veteran myself I know first-hand some of the challenges that veterans and forces families can face. I want to encourage other GPs to get involved with the scheme which can make a real difference.

“It’s great to have helped develop and pilot this programme to ensure that the care we deliver is considerate to some of the unique challenges our Forces communities face.”

Scottish Veterans Commissioner Susie Hamilton has commented on the General Practice Armed Forces and Veterans Recognition Scheme:
“The launch of a General Practice Armed Forces and Veterans Recognition Scheme across Scotland aligns with SVC recommendations and is a hugely welcome move. For most Service leavers, GPs are the gatekeepers to wider healthcare services, so an improved understanding of veterans’ needs is a pivotal step towards ensuring they can access appropriate health and wellbeing services in a timely manner.

“Some members of the ex-Service community can struggle to adapt and find it difficult to access and navigate health care in a less familiar civilian world. They may feel that medical staff do not understand their issues and may be reluctant to seek help. Knowing that GP staff have received specialist training will hopefully make them feel more comfortable about asking for help.

“Like the rest of the Scottish population, veterans have the right to the highest possible standards of health care and to live long, healthier lives. No veteran should ever suffer disadvantage as a result of their military service when accessing health services in Scotland. I would urge all GPs to play their part in helping to meet the needs of the veterans community by signing up to the scheme.

“The nationwide rollout of the scheme represents a positive step for veterans across Scotland and I look forward to hearing about its impact in due course.”