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Shadow Minister meets armed forces veterans


Labour Party Parliamentary candidate for Stroud Constituency, Dr Simon Opher, hosted a visit from Luke Pollard, Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces and Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, on Monday to meet veterans and Labour Party activists.

Ex-servicemen and women experience much higher levels of illness, especially orthopaedic and mental health problems. In a private meeting Luke discussed welfare and health issues affecting Dursley veterans. Dr Simon Opher, Dursley GP and Labour Party candidate for Stroud, is leading a campaign encouraging local GP practices to become accredited as veteran-friendly in an attempt to improve healthcare outcomes.

“There are 4,200 veterans in the Stroud area,” said Dr Opher. “When we began, only three practices were accredited to provide excellent care to veterans. This is rising fast, and I’m hopeful that in time the majority of practices will take the training, and ensure veterans are coded and recognised properly.

DSC8147 | Shadow Minister meets armed forces veterans
Luke Pollard, shadow defence minister, with Dr Simon Opher and Labour Party activists in Dursley. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

“Although charities like Combat Stress deliver fantastic care, many of the Dursley veterans feel let down by the government with their health problems. It is our job in the NHS to fulfil the Armed Forces Covenant and ensure that those that have served, and their families, are treated with fairness and respect.”

Mr Pollard commented: “Labour is deeply proud of our Armed Forces and our veterans. Theirs is the ultimate public service. Most people live happy and successful lives after leaving the forces, but more must be done so that everyone who needs help can access it.

“From welfare services to Veterans ID cards, the Conservatives are failing our veterans and their families. That’s why Labour has launched its Veterans’ Voice campaign to hear directly from former personnel to put their experiences at the heart of our plan for government.”

Afterwards, Luke met party activists at the Bank Café, and then spoke to people on the doorstep on the Bymacks Estate. He added: “We have a lot of work to do, but there is an opportunity for real change in this country.

“Stroud is lucky enough to have an exceptional candidate in Simon Opher, who has 30 years’ experience of living and working in the Dursley area as a GP. His work with veterans, with the local foodbank and in setting up community energy schemes is commendable.”

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