Melton GP practice pledges to support health needs of armed forces veterans

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The hundreds of armed forces veterans living in the Melton area can be assured they will be given the support they need for health issues as a result of a new initiative at the town’s GP surgery.

That was the message from staff at Latham House Medical Practice after it became an accredited armed forces veteran-friendly service.

The standard rating was brought in because there was evidence that GPs were unsure how many of the UK’s three million veterans lived in their areas and because they requested more guidance to meet the needs of those who have served with the military.

Latham House, which is based in Sage Cross Street, has met specified criteria and provided evidence that it is particularly supportive of veterans’ healthcare following checks by the Royal College of General Practitioners (Midland Faculty) working alongside NHS England.

Kate Hunter, executive manager at the practice, said: “We are delighted to now be accredited to be able to better support veterans in our local community.

“Melton Mowbray has a long history as a community connected to the Armed Forces and we estimate there are over 1,300 veterans locally.

“Being accredited means that as a practice we can better identify and treat ex-forces patients, and refer them, where appropriate, to dedicated services.”

Staff at Latham House who have personal connections to the forces were instrumental in launching this programme at the surgery as they understand first-hand the challenges facing veterans and their families and accessing appropriate services locally.

Kate Berry, GP and clinical lead for the scheme at the Melton surgery, commented: “This is a great initiative and it will certainly enable us to provide relevant information and support to veterans and their families locally.

“I know from experience the unique challenges a career in the forces brings and how this understanding can make a big difference.

“We would now urge patients with a connection to the armed forces to please inform us so that we can update their records and ensure we support them appropriately.”

Ensuring that all GPs in England are equipped to best serve veterans and their families is a key commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan - accreditation helps ensure that practices like Latham House are meeting this commitment.

Knowing that a patient is a veteran will help the NHS to better meet the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant, whereby the armed forces community, including veterans, should face no disadvantage in accessing health services and should receive priority care for military attributable conditions, subject to the clinical need of others.

Around 18,000 people move back into civilian life from the armed forces every year in this country, including 2,000 who leave on medical grounds.