Military Veterans

For many years it has been the case that anyone receiving a war pension was eligible for priority hospital treatment under the NHS for conditions caused by their time in military service. This priority treatment was extended in 2008 to include all ex-Veterans:

“From 1 January 2008, all veterans should receive priority access to NHS secondary care for any conditions which are likely to be related to their service, subject to the clinical needs of all patients.”

A “veteran” is any person who have served at least one full day in the UK Armed Forces. There about 5 million veterans in England.

Whilst most veterans have no long term health issues, about 170,000 veterans receive war pensions (or other form of compensation) as a result of a service-related health condition. Some veterans will have received a lump sum gratuity rather than a war pension because the degree of disability caused by service is relatively minor.

Some service-related health problems do not manifest themselves until some time after the person has left the service. Under previous guidance, GPs have had to advise such patients to apply for a war pension before they would be eligible for priority treatment.

Under the new guidance, all veterans who have (or the GP believes may have) a service-related health problem are now eligible for priority hospital treatment whether or not they have received such compensation or war pension.

This does not always mean that someone who has served will always get pushed to the front of the queue, even where their condition is caused by their previous service. For example, an ex-artillary gunner who develops hearing loss won't be seen ahead of someone else who has symptoms that suggest cancer, but would be seen before a another person with hearing loss who has not been in the military.

Therefore, if you have served in the forces, or know someone who has served in the forces, please do let the practice know.

(We do ask though that only genuine veterans register as having served - if the department of defence and the NHS find out that this privalege is being abused, they may withdraw it.)