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Veterans' healthcare

Priority NHS care for veterans

A veteran is someone who has served in the armed forces for at least one day. There are around 4.6m veterans in the UK.

When servicemen and women leave the armed forces, their healthcare is the responsibility of the NHS.

All veterans are entitled to priority access to NHS hospital care for any condition as long as it's related to their service, regardless of whether or not they receive a war pension. The process is explained in Meeting the healthcare needs of Armed Forces personnel, their families and veterans (PDF)

If the health service you are dealing with is unaware of your entitlement for priority treatment, you are actively encouraged to tell them about it and ensure they know "you have served". Failing that, you can enlist the support of your local Armed Forces Network, your local authority Community Covenant lead, or one of the national service organisations such as the Royal British Legion.

All people leaving the armed forces are given a summary of their medical records, which they are advised to give to their new GP when they register. 

If you no longer have a copy of the summary of your health record you can apply for one via the Requests for personal data and service records page on GOV.UK. 

Veterans are encouraged to tell their GP about their veteran status in order to benefit from priority treatment. 

If you're moving to a new location in England or returning from a posting abroad you need to make sure you register with a GP.

Details of GP surgeries and other health services within your area can be using Find GP services.

You shouldn’t be disadvantaged from accessing appropriate health services so it's important you notify your current GP that you are moving particularly if you're on a waiting list for medical treatment so that this information can be transferred across. It is also important to notify your new GP of the situation.

A minority of people leaving the armed forces need access to mental health services, while others might require it later in civilian life. Find out more in Veteran's mental health.

For more information on the duty of care owed to service personnel, read the armed forces covenant


The 9 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Martin Sykes said on 02 March 2015

I'm sorry am I missing something? why do people who voluntarily went to work in the armed forces get priority care over others people.
Over people who actually work in the NHS, who maybe should be prioritised so that they can get back on their feet and helping countless others.
Over teachers who need to be fit and well so they can educate and develop our young people.
it seems a bit unfair to proioritise one group of people just because they volunteered to go work in one area of public sector work, and not others

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Bobby108 said on 07 November 2014

I have read most of the comments here, and its pretty obvious to me that what the government says and what the doctors do is completely opposite, I had the same problem when I eventually saw a physiatrist, I showed her the letter stating that veteran's should be made a 'priority', she looked at it, then threw it back on her desk and said, ''it means nothing to me''.
Ten years on, I am still fighting for treatment, I am waiting for another medical with (ATOS) a doctor...

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Nevster said on 12 September 2014

I served in the RAF from 1988 to 2006 and left with an injury to my back that has progressively got worse over the years which resulted in me going private to have spine surgery in 2010 to ease my condition, 4 1/2 years later and my condition is worse than ever and I now have complications with my hips due to my back condition, I am waiting to see a Spine consultant and Hip consultant and have at every opportunity told my GP and consultants that I am an ex serviceman in receipt of a war pension and that should give me priority treatment, do I get it, do I hell, my appointments come no quicker than the waiting times published on my local hospitals website, I have contacted the bookings department to try and find out when im likely to receive appointments and to make them aware that I'm ex service and get told that it makes no difference and I will have to wait my turn to become top of the list, its a great idea but in practise just doesn't work and when you speak with a doctor that is aware of this they actually don't know what they are supposed to do to get you what you are promised.

All in all I have conditions that I have to live with on a daily basis that makes walking, sitting, standing, driving very painful, as an ex serviceman that has done his bit for queen and country for 18 years I feel extremely let down and unsupported.

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biglad1957 said on 22 August 2014

I read the other reviews and I also informed my doctor that I was ex forces and would I get an appointment to see a specialist faster she just looked at me and said no. I told her that it was what I was entitled to and was told there was no such entitlement that she new of.

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oldgunner said on 18 August 2014

I served from 1969 to 2003, have just visited my doctor who is unaware that veterans have any priority, so why do the government lie? Of course they may not have communicated the policy to the NHS or the NHS is not bothering to impliment.

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ging15 said on 28 July 2014

why lie to us veterans my GP could not care less that i gave 24 years service for our country.waste of time

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winkie said on 18 June 2014

Can anyone answer...
How does Engalands veterans health care compare with the USA

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Forgotten Few said on 26 September 2012

I find it unbelievable that all those veterans that served Prior to 1982 are not within MAP. This is deplorable, especially as we believed in our country and fought for and defended it.
Guess as a friend called me the other day = One of the "Forgotten Thousands", I thought it quite funny then, but now after reading these pages, I believe it to be disgusting that our country has forgotten us and what we did in defending our country. It is about time someone remembered those that served back in the 50's onwards, plus included these, of which I myself am one.

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DebW said on 09 May 2010

I think it would be beneficial for practices/surgeries to be more aware of the MAP, and to pick up on the fact that an individual is a veteran from their history, as many would not think to state this on registration following departure from the Armed Forces. This would enable the GP to refer the individual to MAP, who would hopefully be more understanding than the 'run of the mill' counsellors that may not be able to support the individual in getting to the root of the problem - military personnel become very adept at 'blocking things out', which has a detrimental affect later on in life, particularly when integrating back into civvy street.

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Page last reviewed: 30/04/2014

Next review due: 30/04/2016

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