When you become a Veteran Friendly practice, you gain access to a range of guidance for GPs on the care of patients who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families.
Guidance for GPs
We have produced a range of guidance for GPs on the care of patients who have served in the armed forces, and their families. This has been developed in partnership with NHS England. We are currently seeking input from Scotland and Wales.
The toolkit sits alongside our Veteran Friendly Accreditation Scheme, which supports practices to meet veterans’ healthcare needs.
The health needs of military veterans can differ significantly to those of other patients. Ensuring that all GPs in England are equipped to best serve our armed forces veterans and their families is a key commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan.
In this section:
- The veteran population
- Our duty to the armed forces community
- Requesting a patient's service medical records
The veteran population
A veteran is someone who has served in the British Armed Forces (Regular or Reserve) for at least one day. Veterans also include any member of the Merchant Marine who has served in a war zone. This includes crew from convoys in World War 2 and more recently in the Falklands conflict and Gulf Wars.
There are around 2.4 million British Armed Forces Veterans in Great Britain, of whom 89% are male and 60% are aged 65 and over. Clinical commissioning groups are responsible for the commissioning of health services for veterans, reservists and service families registered with NHS GPs in their area. However, there is evidence that some GPs are unsure of how many of these individuals are registered with their practice and more guidance is needed on how to meet the health needs of these patient groups.
About 18,000 service people move back into civilian life every year. While most of these individuals have similar levels of health to the general population, around 2,000 leave on medical grounds. The top reasons for medical discharge are for issues relating to back, knees, mental health and hearing.
Our duty to the armed forces community
The NHS has a duty to deliver on a number of health commitments in relation to the Armed Forces community (service personnel (regular and reserves), their families and veterans), which are set out in the Armed Forces Covenant and the NHS Constitution.
The Armed Forces Covenant
- The Armed Forces community should enjoy the same standard of, and access to healthcare as that received by any other UK citizen in the area they live.
- Family members should retain their place on any NHS waiting list, if moved around the UK due to the service person being posted.
- Veterans should receive priority treatment for a condition which relates to their service, subject to clinical need.
- Those injured in service should be cared for in a way that reflects the nation's moral obligation to them, by healthcare professionals who understand the Armed Forces culture.
Visit the Armed Forces Covenant for more information.
This is recognised in the NHS Constitution, which states:
"The NHS will ensure that in line with the Armed Forces Covenant, those in the Armed Forces, reservists, their families and veterans are not disadvantaged in accessing health services in the area they reside".
Requesting a patient's service medical records
Veterans are given a personal copy of their summary medical record when they leave the Armed Forces, together with information on how to obtain their full service medical record if they need it.
If this has been lost, you can send an email regarding a specific medical record to the contact details below.
Royal Navy / Royal Marines
RN Service Leavers
Institute of Naval Medicine
Hants PO12 2DL
Secretariat Disclosure 3 (Medical)
Mail Point 525
Army Personnel Centre
65 Brown Street
Glasgow G2 8EX
Royal Air Force
Lincs NG34 8HB