Posted: Wed 24th May 2023

Veteran health services boost, Wales commits to improved GP care

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, May 24th, 2023

Wales has launched an innovative scheme aiming to bolster general practitioner (GP) services for military veterans, through registering GP practices as ‘veteran-friendly’.

The initiative, devised by Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), is designed to enhance the provision of specialist care for current and former military personnel.

The ground-breaking programme encourages GP practices to voluntarily participate in specialist training focusing on veterans’ health and wellbeing.

It also underlines the importance of promoting fair treatment and respect for people who have served with the armed forces, as well as their families.

Under this initiative, GP surgeries partaking in the scheme will proactively inquire from new patients about their, or their family members’, service with the British armed forces.

Furthermore, practices will be required to stay updated with the latest training and guidance on veterans’ health, to support their patients’ needs most effectively.

Dr Chris Price, the lead for the HEIW programme and a practising GP in Cwmbran, underlined the significance of the scheme, stating, “Providing priority NHS care for a patient whose condition results from, or is related to, their military service can make a real difference to them and their families.”

Although Dr Price acknowledged that most military veterans do not have conditions directly related to their service, he highlighted the profound impact recognition of service can have on an individual’s health.

He further advocated for practices to consider participation in the programme, emphasising the potential to strengthen the trust between a patient and their GP.

Lynne Neagle, Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being, praised the creation of the Veteran Friendly GP practice scheme, asserting it will facilitate veterans’ access to healthcare services when and where required. Echoing this sentiment, Sir Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer, underscored the essential role of GPs in making initial referrals for patients needing specialist care.

This announcement comes ahead of the Welsh Government’s Armed Forces Community conference in Cardiff, aiming to bring together veterans’ groups, charities, public sector and the three armed services.

Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn, the MS for Delyn, expressed pride in the introduction of ‘veteran-friendly’ GP practices. She reaffirmed the commitment of organisations across Wales to the Armed Forces Covenant, which recognises a moral obligation towards members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families.

This pioneering scheme is a testament to the ongoing commitment of Wales to provide comprehensive and efficient healthcare services to veterans, reinforcing the nation’s dedication to their wellbeing.

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