Veterans health scheme is welcomed

LOCAL health chiefs and politicians have given their backing to a new scheme which will provide Scotland’s war veterans with access to specialist information and advice on health issues.

The Healthcare Providers Awareness leaflet, was revealed by Veterans Minister Keith Brown MSP at the end of last week and will help ensure more veterans in Scotland are identified by health workers as Armed Forces veterans.

By ensuring that veterans are known to their health provider, they can easily obtain access to specialist advice services on offer to them through NHS Scotland including priority treatment for a Service related condition, subject to clinical need.

The leaflet will be distributed to all GP practices and other primary care providers including hospitals and health centres via the 14 NHS Boards.

The Veteran Healthcare Guide - available on the NHS inform website (www.nhsinform.co.uk) - will offer guidance to veterans on specific health concerns and advice with mental and physical recovery.

The Scottish Government, NHS 24 and Veterans Scotland worked in partnership to deliver the two new resources and NHS Borders chair, John Raine, said he hoped veterans would have confidence in the knowledge and treatment the NHS can provide.

He commented: “From a healthcare perspective, we are aware that many veterans feel the NHS does not really understand their particular issues.

“As well as providing the veterans with information to help them access appropriate care, within this resource there is also guidance for healthcare staff to help them identify veterans and better understand their circumstances and the risks they may have been exposed to in their work. I think that this will help us to make sure veterans of our armed forces receive the treatment and support they require and builds upon the work of our joint initiative with Scottish Borders Council and others last November in publishing the Veterans Handbook.”

Hailing the new initiative, South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse commented: “It is important that we do everything we can to support our veterans. After everything they have given on our behalf, we have a duty to ensure that they have all the support and care that they may need when they need it.

“Ensuring that healthcare providers are fully aware of the support and priority treatment that is available to veterans will go a long way towards ensuring that as many veterans as possible are accessing the help they are entitled to and this builds upon progress in areas such as housing entitlements.

“Making sure that veterans have access to all the information they need is an important part of making the readjustment back to civilian life, with knock-on benefits for both the veteran and his or her dependents.

“This is a very positive new source of advice for Scotland’s veteran community and a further demonstration of the Scottish Government’s determination to do all it can to support our veterans.”