HAVE YOU SERVED YOUR COUNTRY?: TAKING CARE OF VETERANS
If you can answer yes to all three questions this means that you are a veteran. You are therefore entitled to priority treatment within the NHS in Scotland for a service related condition. It is no longer necessary to be in receipt of a war pension or gratuity from the Ministry of Defence.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN PRACTICE?
- It means, for example, if you suffered any ill health or injury during your service - (this will normally, but not always, be recorded on your service medical records) - that now requires further treatment, your GP will indicate, when referring you to the relevant NHS department, with your consent, that your injury is related to your time in the Armed Forces. The NHS department will then take account of this in allocating you an appointment. They will review their current waiting list, and, providing there are not other patients with a greater clinical need on the list, you will be given a priority appointment.
- Priority treatment ONLY applies to conditions which are related to your service. (The NHS in Scotland is, however, working towards a maximum waiting time for allNHS patients from referral to treatment of 18 weeks by 2011.)
- It is for your clinical practitioner to decide, on the balance of probabilities, whether your condition is related to your service.
- You are under no obligation at any time to declare yourself a veteran and you may not wish to do so. You may, however, wish to discuss this entitlement with your GP during your consultation for treatment of a condition related to your service.
- All veterans are able to use the NHS complaints procedure to resolve any breakdowns in the arrangements for priority treatment.
THOSE ENTITLED TO PRIORITY TREATMENT FOR CONDITIONS RELATED TO SERVICE ARE AS FOLLOWS:
- All Army, Navy and Air Force personnel who served at least one day and are considered veterans for this purpose
- Former members of the Merchant Navy who took a direct part in legally-defined UK military operations
Recent guidance to the NHS from the Scottish Government ( CEL8 (2008) dated 13 February 2008) outlines the extension of priority treatment for health conditions related to service to include all veterans with effect from 29 February 2008. If any NHS staff you deal with are unsure of your entitlement, please refer them to this document.
Some mental health problems do not manifest themselves until some time after completing service. If you feel that your condition may be mental health related, and you wish further guidance on the assistance available, this can be obtained by telephoning the Ministry of Defence Mental Health Team on 0800 0326 258. Any information you provide will be treated in the strictest confidence.
You may prefer, initially, to discuss your entitlement with your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Details of your local office can be found on their website www.cas.org.uk/webofficefinder.aspx or your local telephone directory.
phone: 0131 557 2782
phone: 0800 169 5401