Military personnel 'the wounded unwounded' - access to NHS services
The recent news has been full of reports about service men and women not getting the appropriate medical care they need when they are discharged. A recent report said, “The government is failing to abide by its pledge to give injured British soldiers priority for medical treatment in the years after their service.”
Simon Brown, veteran Corporal says, “If veterans got the treatment they are entitled to they could remain productive members of society". Although a Ministry of Defence spokesman said it was "fully committed" to the Armed Forces covenant which sets out how Government is supporting veterans and their families in key areas such as healthcare, housing and education, leading professors in psychology and orthopaedics say the healthcare system is not providing veterans with the service they have been promised.
seAp Military Advocacy Service works with veterans and has recognised this to be the case. Dan, a former serviceman, who leads seAp’s military project in Oxford says, “One of the biggest problems that I am seeing is with the ‘wounded unwounded’. It seems that those with less obvious physical injuries or deformities and those with mental health problems struggle the most with getting the care they need. I am noticing that a lot of veterans feel that unless they have very obvious physical injuries as a result of their service they fall to the bottom of the pile.”
“During my short time working on the project I have heard several disheartened veterans claim that it would be a different story if they had lost limbs.”
“I agree that not all NHS staff are aware of the covenant.”
Dan goes on to say, “An example of this is the experience of one veteran we are supporting who has a long term, severe back injury sustained in Afghanistan. He was told by a NHS physiotherapist that he is not entitled to ongoing care and was even discharged, leaving him with no option but to go back to his GP with a print out of an article explaining the covenant in order to get re-referred.”
Being discharged from the army due to an injury often brings additional problems with military personnel, finding themselves in the unfamiliar territory of ‘civvy street’ where everything is totally different - with the stress of ongoing injury to deal with. Adjustment is challenging enough without the added uncertainty of what’s happening with their healthcare.
We owe it to our veterans, at the very least, to have their healthcare fully taken care of. seAp’s Military Advocacy Project supports people leaving the military to access the services they need. Please click here for information on our military advocacy pilot.