Top tips for getting the right care and support
Register with a GP
It is important to register with a GP, rather than wait until you need treatment.
Tell your GP that you’ve served in the UK Armed Forces
This will help your GP to better understand any military related health conditions that you may have and ensure that you are referred, where appropriate, to dedicated services for ex-forces. Further information below.
Give your GP the paperwork that your military medical centre gave you, including any medical records
If you’ve recently left the forces, it is important to do this to help ensure your military health record transfers to your NHS health record. This will give your GP information on your health and ensure that any ongoing care and treatment is continued.
It can sometimes take a while for your military health records to arrive at your NHS GP practice. If you have been getting hospital care or are having complex treatment, before you leave the services, ask you military doctor for a printout of your notes to give to your NHS doctor. A good time to ask would be at your final medication examination, which is often done about two months before handing in your ID card.
Informing us you are a Veteran matters
Being flagged as a veteran in your NHS medical notes will help to ensure that you are able to access specific veterans’ health services, such as those for mental health, hearing loss, limb amputation and wheelchairs.
It also means that where you have an illness or medical condition that has been caused by your time in service or occurred whilst you were in the military, you may be entitled to a shorter hospital waiting list. For example, if you developed skin cancer as a result of serving overseas for many years, this would be included. However, if you need a gall bladder operation, it would be unlikely that this was due to military service and so you would be treated as a typical NHS patient. This is part of the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant.
With your consent, it can sometimes be helpful for your doctor to refer you to specific service charities, such as SSAFA, Royal British Legion, BLESMA or Help for Heroes. They can often offer significant help and support, even if they do not all deliver health care.
You may be worried about discussing elements of your time in service. Please note that the NHS is bound by a confidentiality code of practice to ensure GPs, nurses and other people working within the NHS deliver a confidential service bound by law.