A veteran is someone who has served in the armed forces for at least one day. There are around 2.8 million veterans in the UK.
When servicemen and women leave the armed forces, their healthcare is the responsibility of the NHS.
It is highly important for continuing healthcare that you register with an NHS GP and remember to tell them you’ve served. Telling the GP practice about your veteran status will trigger the transfer of your full medical documentation from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to your GP and enable you to benefit from veteran-specific services, like prosthetics and mental health.
You shouldn’t be disadvantaged from accessing appropriate health services, so it’s important that you notify your current GP that you are moving, particularly if you’re on a waiting list for medical treatment, so that this information can be transferred across.
All veterans are entitled to priority access to NHS care (including hospital, primary or community care) for conditions associated to their time within the armed forces (service-related). However this is always subject to clinical need and does not entitle you to jump the queue ahead of someone with a higher clinical need.
If the NHS service you are dealing with is unaware of priority treatment, you are actively encouraged to tell them about it and ensure you have told them that you have served. Failing that, you can enlist local health care commissioners, your local authority community covenant lead, or one of the national service organisations, such as the Royal British Legion, to support you.
For more information on the duty of care owed to service personnel, read the Armed Forces Covenant.