Tameside doctors’ practices have been working to deliver an improved standard of service to military veterans – and the NHS nationally is now sharing Tameside’s experience as an example of how to go about it.
Over the last year Tameside GPs’ surgeries have been working with their local partners to make sure military veterans are identified as such when they register with their GPs, to help get rid of any barriers facing the borough’s veteran community, and to ensure veterans can access any extra services that may be available to them.
Dr Kate Hebden of Denton Medical Practice explained: “As doctors treating patients, obviously we need to fully understand their medical history, and it may be highly relevant that someone’s a military veteran. Also there may be additional services we can signpost them to. For instance, if they have an injury or illness related to their time in service, they may be entitled to a higher place on an NHS waiting list.
“So we’re keen to make sure all Tameside’s GP practices are aware of the benefits to their patients from doing this. And equally we want military veterans to let us know as soon as possible that they’ve served in the armed forces, so we can deliver the best possible service to them.”
Cllr Ged Cooney, Tameside Council’s executive lead for armed forces, said, “There were cases of veterans facing difficulties in accessing healthcare services. So the Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group – the body which commissions our local medical services – got together with Tameside Armed Services Community, and we worked out how best to address that. As a result, our GP practices were able to get well over a thousand military veterans properly coded.”
The Council was successful in bidding for a community grant under NHS England’s Sharing and Celebrating Patient and Public Involvement in Healthcare scheme, which aims to spread best practice amongst healthcare professionals around the country. So the Council and Tameside Armed Services Community were able to publish a detailed guide
and a video
to support other local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and healthcare providers, plus a poster
for display in appropriate locations encouraging military veterans to notify their GPs of their veteran status as soon as possible.