Aldershot became the main centre of the British Army within the United Kingdom in 1854 and still is to this day with a large number of military personal living and working in the area known as the Home of the British Army.
Here at Princes Gardens Surgery we are aware that being part of a Military Family can be hard.
We are an Armed Forces veteran friendly accredited GP practice.
This means that, as part of the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant, we have a dedicated Clinician who has a specialist knowledge of military related health conditions and veteran specific health services. This is important in helping ex-forces to get the best care and treatment.
If you are ex-forces, please let your GP know to help ensure you are getting the best possible care.
Dedicated services for veterans
Veterans’ mental health services
Top tips for veterans
How to get the most from your GP
- It is important to register with a GP, rather than wait until you need treatment. Visit the NHS website at www.nhs.uk to find details of GP practices in your local area.
- If you’ve recently left the forces, it is important to give your GP the paperwork that your military medical centre gave you, including any medical records. This will help to make sure your military health record transfers to your NHS health record. This will also give your GP information on your health and ensure that any ongoing care and treatment is continued.
- Regardless of when you left the military, 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 veterans.
This includes the specialist mental and physical health services, Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service and the Veterans Trauma Network.
When using these services, you will be able to speak to people who:
- understand the Armed Forces and military life
- are either from the Armed Forces community or highly experienced in working with serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families
- will work with you to make sure you get the right type of specialist care, support, and treatment
- work closely with a range of organisations and charities, including military charities, to support your wider health and wellbeing needs.
- With your agreement, it can sometimes be helpful for your doctor to refer you to Armed Forces charities, such as SSAFA, the Royal British Legion, Combat Stress or Help for Heroes. They can often offer significant help and support, even if they do not all deliver healthcare.
- You may be worried about sharing information about your time in the Armed Forces. 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.
For more information, speak to your GP or visit the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/armedforceshealth
Dedicated health services for the Armed Forces community
Op Courage: the Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
Op Courage is the new over-arching name for the three NHS veterans’ mental health services (Veteran’s Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), Veteran’s Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and Veteran’s Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS). The new name has been developed by veterans and their families and is intended to make the services easier to find and access.
Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)
This is a dedicated out-patient service for serving personnel approaching discharge from the Armed Forces and veterans who are experiencing mental health difficulties. The TILS provides a range of treatment, from recognising the early signs of mental health problems and providing access to early support, to therapeutic treatment for complex mental health difficulties and psychological trauma. Help may also be provided with housing, employment, alcohol misuse and social support.
The service comprises three elements:
- Transition: service for those in transition, leaving the armed forces The service works with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to offer mental health support for Armed Forces personnel approaching discharge.
- Intervention: service for veterans with complex presentation Service personnel approaching discharge and veterans will have an assessment within two weeks of a receipt of referral. Where appropriate, the TILS will aim to see patients two weeks after this. This will be with a clinician who has an expert understanding of Armed Forces life and culture. They may also be supported by a care coordinator who will liaise with other services and organisations to ensure a coordinated approach to their care.
- Liaison: general service for veterans Patients who do not have complex presentations, yet would benefit from NHS care, will be referred into local mainstream NHS mental health services where they will receive treatment and support.
If an assessment finds that an individual has significant mental health difficulties that are service related and have not improved with previous treatment, they will be referred to their local CTS.
Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS)
This is an enhanced out patient service for ex-forces who have military related complex mental health difficulties that have not improved with previous treatment. The service provides a range of intensive care and treatment that may include (but is not limited to) support for drug and alcohol misuse, physical health, employment, housing, relationships and finances, as well as occupational and trauma focused therapies.
The NHS Veterans Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS) for veterans needing urgent help who are in mental health crisis has been trialled in some regions since October 2020. It is now being rolled out across the country as part of a phased approach. Those needing urgent help will receive a same day referral.
Veterans can self-refer or be referred by their GP, a charity or family or friends to access specialist care through this single route of Op Courage.
For further information on Op Courage, including the contact details for the service in your region, visit www.nhs.uk/opcourage.
Veterans Trauma Network (VTN)
Following feedback from veterans, their families and GPs, NHS England has worked with the MOD and key military charities to launch the Veterans Trauma Network, which provides care and treatment to those who have been injured during their time in service.
Located in ten major trauma centres across England (Plymouth, Oxford, London (three centres), Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool, Leeds and Middlesborough), the network links with the TILS, CTS and key military charities to provide a complete package of care.
GPs can use a single email (email@example.com) to refer veterans to the service, where they will benefit from specialist care by military and civilian experts..
Patients using the service will have a personalised treatment plan that links to other services where required, such as rehabilitation and mental health, whilst families and carers will be supported to access services they may benefit from.
For more information or to refer a patient, email the Veterans Trauma Network
A veterans’ prosthetics programme was put into place to implement the key findings of A better deal for military amputees report by Dr Andrew Murrison MP.
Dr Murrison recommended that a small number of NHS disablement centres should provide specialist prosthetic and rehabilitation support to veterans to ensure that they continue to have access to high quality care similar to that which was provided to them whilst they were in the Armed Forces. The following nine Disablement Service Centres (DSCs) were selected to provide this support although veterans are free to attend the NHS DSC of their choice:
- Bristol – Bristol Centre for Enablement, North Bristol NHS Trust
- Leicester – Leicester Specialist Mobility Centre, provided by Blatchford Clinical Services on behalf of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)
- Sheffield – Mobility and Specialised Rehabilitation Centre, Northern General Hospital
- Carlisle – Disablement Services Centre, Cumberland Infirmary, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
- Preston – Specialist Mobility & Rehabilitation Centre, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Stanmore – Stanmore Prosthetic Rehabilitation Unit, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Trust
- Portsmouth – Prosthetic Regional Rehabilitation Department, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
- Birmingham – West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust
- Cambridge – Addenbrooke’s Rehabilitation Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
In addition to providing support to nine DSCs, a Veterans’ Prosthetics Panel (VPP) was established in 2012. The VPP was designed to ensure that veterans could access high-quality prosthetics regardless of which DSC they attend. Applications for funding from the VPP are made by a veteran’s prosthetist.
The National Prosthetics Service (NPS) is Scotland’s centre for designing and fitting prosthetic limbs.
Personalised care for veterans with a long term physical, mental or neurological health condition or disability
NHS England, together with the Ministry of Defence, have published the Personalised care for veterans in England, a guide for clinical commissioning groups and local authorities, which sets out a new personalised care approach for those veterans who have a long term physical, mental or neurological health condition or disability.
This guide is for those individuals and organisations who are leading or involved in supporting this patient group through the delivery of NHS Continuing Health Care or a jointly agreed care plan. A supporting patient leaflet is also available.
Eligible individuals will have a single personalised care plan for all their health and wellbeing needs that is developed with them and a range of organisations, including health and social care and military charities. This approach will give the individual more choice and control over how their care is planned and delivered, meaning they can choose how best to live their life and get the right care and support to make this happen. It will also take into account personal preferences that relate specifically to the individual’s military service. As part of this, they may get a personal budget to pay for some of the care and support they need, as well as more support in the community, such as emotional and practical support from people who have similar health conditions or disabilities. To apply, individuals should contact their local clinical commissioning group.
Veterans Covenant Health Alliance
The Veterans Covenant Health Alliance is a network of over 30 acute hospitals that have been accredited as exemplars of the best care for veterans, helping to drive improvements in NHS care for people who serve or have served in the UK armed forces and their families.
The ambition is to have 75 NHS providers accredited by the end of 2019, with plans to expand this important initiative to mental health and ambulance trusts. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the NHS website.
Mobility equipment support
The Royal British Legion has a Veterans’ Mobility Fund, which provides specialist wheelchairs, orthotic equipment and other mobility related items for veterans who have a service related serious physical injury and whose needs cannot be met through statutory services. Eligibility for the fund requires the condition to be attributable to service and typically applicants will be in receipt of a War Pension or relevant award under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. To find out more, visit the British Legion website.
The Armed Forces Healthcare Navigator Service
The Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) provides emotional and practical support to the Armed Forces community when they are on a health care pathway, receiving treatment in hospital, community based health care, or at home.
Assessing, identifying, and addressing welfare and wellbeing issues that are a barrier to recovery or good health and wellbeing, DMWS work with the individual, their family, carers, and health and social care partners, to find solutions and provide onward supported referrals to other organisations for services beyond the scope of DMWS intervention.
DMWS’ professional and expert medical welfare service evidences reduction in delayed transfers of care, reduction in frequent attendance at A&E, enables independent living, reduces social isolation, improves wellbeing, and provides a coordinated, holistic approach to accessing the right support, in the right place, at the right time
Veterans can be referred to DMWS or can contact DMWS directly. For more information, visit Defence Medical Welfare Service website
Other services available to veterans
Veterans’ Gateway is for any ex-service personnel and their families looking for advice or support, 24 hours a day. It is the first point of contact to a network of military and non-military partner organisations to help veterans and their families find exactly what information, advice and support they need, when they need it – across key areas from physical and mental health to employability, housing, finances, personal relationships and more. For more information, visit the Veterans’ Gateway website or call 0808 802 1212.
Contact is a group of charitable, support and state organisations that have joined forces to enhance mental health support available to the Armed Forces community. The partnership consists of Big White Wall, Cobseo, Combat Stress, Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion, Walking With The Wounded, the NHS, MOD, UK Psychological Trauma Society and King’s College London. Contact aims to improve collaborative care management, increase instances of help-seeking behaviour, improve service provision, encourage best practice across the sector and improve public knowledge of what support is available and how best to access it. For more information, visit the Contact website.
Cobseo, as the Confederation of Service Charities, offers membership to charities who promote and further the welfare and general interests of the Armed Forces community, subject to fulfilling the membership criteria. Comprising 255 members, Cobseo provides a single point of contact for interaction with the Armed Forces community. For more information, visit the Cobseo website.
Help for Heroes
Help for Heroes provides direct, practical support for wounded, injured and sick service personnel, Veterans and their families. No matter when or where someone served, the charity offers the help they need, if necessary for life. They have four recovery centres in the UK that offer a wide range of services, including, but not exclusive to, psychological wellbeing, clinical support and sports recovery.
Alongside this they also offer two further services: Hidden Wounds and The Veterans Clinical Liaison Service (VCL).
The Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds service is a Step 2 IAPT guided self-help model supporting ex-service personnel, their family members and the families of serving personnel. Weekly sessions are delivered by psychological wellbeing practitioners using bespoke workbooks and practical tools and techniques to help individuals better understand and positively manage their emotions.
The service is suitable for those exhibiting low to moderate symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, anger and excessive alcohol use, using evidence-based CBT interventions that have proven to be effective for a wide range of people. Support is delivered by phone, Skype or face to face. The service also works with the NHS, other charities and Armed Forces health networks to ensure the most appropriate care pathway for their beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can self-refer or be professionally referred. For further information, visit the Help for Heroes website.
The Veterans Clinical Liaison (VCL) Service acts as a point of contact for those with serious complex injuries and long terms health issues and focuses on holistic clinical support to improve an individual’s quality of life. The VCL nurses engage and empower Help for Heroes beneficiaries to optimise their clinical status in partnership with statutory (NHS and social care) and voluntary organisations. Beneficiaries can self-refer or be professionally referred. For further information, visit the Help for Heroes website.
Combat Stress is the UK’s leading mental health charity for veterans. They provide free specialised clinical treatment and support to ex-servicemen and women across the UK with mental health conditions. Combat Stress has a strategic partnership with the MOD and the Department of Health and Social Care. This enables them to work directly with NHS mental health trusts and Armed Forces health networks to develop services suitable for military veterans. For further information, visit the Combat Stress website.
Supporting Wounded Veterans
Supporting Wounded Veterans (SWV) understands the impact pain can have on a veteran and their family. They offer an online “review” with a Consultant in Pain Medicine who is also a veteran. This discussion considers the options that may be available for the management of pain. Following their discussion, they are sent a letter which, with their permission, will be copied to their family doctor; at no point do they become SWV “patient”.
One option available is attending the SWV online Veterans’ Pain Resilience Programme; designed by veterans, for veterans. They also have links to a NHS Veterans’ Opioid Weaning Service.
Blesma supports limbless veterans to lead independent and fulfilling lives. Blesma is dedicated to assisting serving and ex-service men and women who have suffered life-changing limb loss or the use of a limb, an eye or loss of sight. They support these men and women throughout the UK and provide centralised assistance to those living overseas.
Blesma works closely with the NHS to ensure the latest advances in the relevant medical fields are converted into practical solutions that can benefit all of their members. They do not provide members’ prosthetics, but they do help prosthetists develop their skills at undergraduate and PhD level. For further information, visit the Blesma website.
Hearing loss and tinnitus services
If a patient has acquired hearing loss and / or tinnitus relating to their time in service, additional support can be funded through the Royal British Legion Veterans’ Hearing Fund. To access the service, patients can be referred by their GP to their local NHS audiology department or an application form can be downloaded from the Veterans’ Medical Funds webpage.
ATS & WRAC Association Benevolent Fund
The ATS & WRAC Association Benevolent Fund awards one-off and recurring financial grants to purchase specific goods, services or facilities for eligible former servicewomen, or their dependents, in need. The charity also provides annual maintenance grants to former servicewomen who are either elderly, alone, living on low incomes or in ill health, and makes contributions to top-up care-home fees. Any former ATS or WRAC servicewoman, including TA, with one day’s paid service or more prior to 1992, is eligible for assistance. All cases must be referred through the local branch of SSAFA or regional Royal British Legion (RBL) office. SSAFA or the RBL who will arrange for a trained caseworker to interview the applicant in their home to establish the full range of assistance needed. Please see ATS & WRAC Association Benevolent Fund website or contact 0300 400 1992 for more information.
The Poppy Factory’s employment service
The Poppy Factory provides a dedicated employment service for ex-Forces patients across England and Wales, to which GPs and other health professionals can refer directly using a simple web-based form. The role of meaningful employment or training in a patient’s recovery can be significant and in 2021-22, nearly 200 ex-Forces patients were referred through the NHS, representing 35% of all referrals. Regular assessments showed that 64% reported increased health and wellbeing. The Poppy Factory’s consultants have expertise working with ex-Forces personnel with mild, moderate and complex mental and physical health conditions and will support veterans with challenges relating to mental or physical health and stability issues such as housing, finances or relationships. They can connect patients to other specialist services and work at whatever pace is right for the individual.
The Poppy Factory welcomes referrals from GPs and other health professionals. A simple referral form can be found online at The Poppy Factory Referral Registration.
Further information on NHS services for veterans can be found on the NHS website
Patient charter: our commitment to you as a veteran of the UK Armed Forces
The NHS is here to help improve your health and wellbeing and keep you mentally and physically well. It is also here to help you get better when you are ill and, when you cannot fully recover, to stay as well as you can until the end of your life.
This means that you can expect the following from our practice:
- We will ask all patients if they have served in the UK Armed Forces (as a regular or reservist). If you have, we will note this in your medical record, with your permission.
- We will ask you to share details of your time in service to help us to assess the best support and treatment for you.
- The information you share will be kept confidential and we will always speak to you before sharing this with other services you may be referred to.
- You can make an appointment to see our clinical lead for veteran’s health. This person has a comprehensive understanding of the Armed Forces, health conditions linked to service, and the dedicated support you can access.
- The NHS has a duty to support the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant. This means that you will get priority treatment for any medical condition which has been caused by your service, subject to the clinical needs of other patients.
- We will let you know what choices are available for your care and treatment and help you to make informed decisions on what to do.
- Where appropriate and with your consent, we can refer you to dedicated veterans health services.
- If you need to be seen by another service, we will let them know you’re a veteran and make sure they have an understanding of your health and wellbeing needs, so you don’t have to keep repeating your ‘personal story’.
- We can give advice and support to your loved ones who may be affected by your health conditions.
- We will investigate any issues and complaints that you may have about your care. If you have any concerns about the services we offer, please speak to one of the practice team.