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Healthcare boost for veterans, in time for D-Day anniversary

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A campaign to improve healthcare access for armed forces veterans in the Stroud area has been hailed a success – after two-thirds of GP practices join a scheme to become ‘veteran friendly’.

The campaign launched in October last year and has been led by Dursley GP and Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Stroud, Dr Simon Opher MBE, in his capacity as Chair of Stroud NHS locality.

“Veterans are more susceptible to certain illnesses and can have service-related physical and mental injuries and it’s important that GPs are aware of this,” said Dr Opher. 

 “I’m delighted that GPs across the district have responded so quickly to our campaign. The 80th anniversary commemorations of D-Day this week are a reminder of how much we owe all our military veterans and that they deserve to receive the best possible care.” 

“There are also bespoke veteran services available that GPs can refer to. This campaign has helped to identify veterans, and educate GPs about veteran health.”

It is estimated that there are over 4,000 military veterans in the Stroud area. Research shows that just over half of all veterans have a long-term illness or disability, significantly more than the wider community – and these are frequently not identified by health services.

When the campaign was launched in October by Dr Opher and Stroud NHS locality, only three out of 15 Stroud area GP practices were registered to deliver veteran care. Now, there are 10 signed up to the Royal College of GPs Veteran Friendly Practice accreditation and more are planning to join. 

Veterans in the Cam and Dursley area should have received a text asking them to sign up with their practices. If local veterans have not seen this, they should contact their practice to ensure that their patient records identify their veteran status. 

“Many hundreds of veterans have been newly identified,” Dr Opher said, “So when a doctor sees a patient who used to serve in the armed forces, he or she is aware of this. This will enhance the veteran’s care going forward.”

The Cam and Dursley Vale Armed Forces Community runs regular events including bi-monthly  breakfasts  at the Railway Inn in Cam. One of the coordinators, Frankie, said “It’s great  that this scheme is raising awareness of specific service-related health issues and making it easier for veterans to discuss them with their GP. I know first hand the type of serious mental health problems that some veterans suffer from, following their service. GPs locally are  now stepping up their care and understanding.”

By becoming a Veteran Friendly practice, staff will have a better understanding of veterans’ needs and, veterans will feel more confident that the GP team will understand their needs. 

If you are or know someone who has served then please do make sure that this information is identified on GP records.  

If you would like to connect with fellow veterans and those who are serving locally then visit www.canduafc.co.uk, drop an email to canduafc@gmail.com or call 07749 977191 to find out more about upcoming events.  

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