Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
We Are Open

We are an Armed Forces veteran-friendly accredited GP practice

We are happy to say that Brunton Park Health Centre is now an Armed Forces veteran-friendly accredited GP practice.

Along with our neighbouring practices in Gosforth and Jesmond, we have signed up to display our commitment to providing the best possible health care to those who have served in the British Armed Forces, and their families.

This means we have a dedicated staff member with specialist knowledge of military-related health conditions and veteran-specific health services.

Who is a veteran?

A veteran is defined as anyone who has served one day in the British Armed Forces.

Across the UK, more than 2.4 million people have served in the British Armed Forces, along with 5.4 million family members and dependents.

Every year, 18,000 people leave the military and return to civilian life. This includes 2,500 people who go leave on medical grounds.

The Armed Forces Covenant

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise that together, we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces and their families should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy, and society they serve with their lives.

In the NHS, this means that:

  • Veterans and their family members must not be disadvantaged when accessing standard NHS services
  • Veterans should be prioritised for specialist treatment and care if an injury or health condition results from their service
  • Veteran’s family members should keep their places on NHS waiting lists if they move due to redeployment

Why Veterans’ Health is Important

People who served in the Armed Forces can have the same health problems as anyone else, but by becoming veteran-friendly accredited we understand more about extra needs veterans can have.

The nature of the service – putting themselves in harm’s way to protect others – can have specific effects.

More than half of veterans (52%) live with long-term illness or disability – that’s higher than the 35% of the general population.

Of the 2,500 people who leave the forces every year because of their health, back and knee injuries feature highly, along with hearing problems.

Then there are the mental health implications.

Veterans who served during recent military operations are more likely to have mental health issues and less likely to get help quickly.

  • 23% of veterans have mental health disorders like anxiety or depression. It’s 16% of the broader adult population.
  • More than 8% have experienced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD – rising to 17% of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s 5% for people who haven’t been in the military.
  • Alcohol misuse is twice as high in veterans – 1 in 10 former armed forces members as opposed to 1 in 20 across the country.

On average, a veteran experiences mental health issues for up to 4 years before seeking help.

How it helps

Our focus is always on understanding each patient as an individual. Our commitment to veterans means understanding the factors that may play a part in someone’s medical history and how we can manage their health in the future.

Knowing someone has served in the armed forces gives us that extra context and opens additional options for support.

Here are two examples:

Op RESTORE: The Veterans Physical Health and Wellbeing Service is an NHS service that provides specialist care and treatment to veterans with physical health problems because of their time in the Armed Forces.

Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service is an NHS mental health specialist service designed to help serving personnel due to leave the military, reservists, armed forces veterans and their families

What to do

The first step is to make sure that we know if you are a former member of the British Armed Forces or were registered with the Defence Medical Services.

You may have been asked this when you joined the practice, but this can easily be double-checked by contacting us.

We may also contact patients by text message to ask if they have ever been a member of the armed forces. This is to ensure all veterans eligible for additional support get the help they need.

Remember, you are classed as a veteran and entitled to the same care, regardless of how long you served.

The NHS website has a practical step-by-step guide for service leavers, including managing ongoing treatment and how to help us get a copy of your entire military medical history, should we need it.