GP services shake-up to help area's veterans

HEALTHCARE services for veterans across the Portsmouth area are to be stepped up following the results of a major study.

Friday, 23rd December 2016, 9:53 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:18 pm
GP services for veterans look set to be improved

A survey of almost 1,800 ex-servicemen and women unveiled a range of problems military personnel face when leaving the forces.

The report, commissioned by NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, found many veterans felt healthcare and GP services were inadequate at supporting them emotionally.

Many claimed there was a ‘poor handover’ from military doctors to their civilian counterparts and that veterans had a ‘lack of faith’ in GPs.

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One veteran said: ‘I wish I was still in, as the military medical service was far superior to anything in civvy street. GPs just do not understand or seem to care.’

Of the 1,780 veterans quizzed in the survey, during 2015/16, about a quarter of them felt their transitioning from military to civilian healthcare needed improvement, with one in 10 claiming their GPs did not understand military culture.

Other suggested improvements included: better information about accessing civilian healthcare and a deeper understanding of veterans’ mental health by GPs.

Dr Elizabeth Fellows, the CCG’s veterans lead, said the organisation is setting up a city-wide Veterans’ Patient Participation Group for military leavers to air their views.

She added patients enrolling at GP practices are now routinely asked if they are veterans but said more could be done to improve 
experiences for ex-military personnel.

Dr Fellows said: ‘Former members of the armed services community, including their relatives, can have particular issues as a result of service to their country – which we as GPs need to know about.

‘But this is not about giving them priority, it is much more about ensuring that we signpost them to services that can best help them, which means they get a better service and the wider health and social care system makes the 
best use of its available resources.

‘Not all the issues and themes that came out of the report are within the CCG’s “gift” to do something about, but where we can take direct action to improve services we will.’