Just six per cent of Lancashire veterans are confident that their GPs can meet their health needs, a new report shows.
The data, which comes from a three-month-long project led by Healthwatch Lancashire, reveals that more than half of veterans (51 per cent) feel that there are barriers for veterans accessing services.
The most commonly mentioned barrier was lack of communication and lack of awareness of veteran specific issues (33 per cent) such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
It goes on to reveal how only 13 per cent of the county’s veterans are accessing the psychological therapy services on the NHS, specifically set up for ex-service personnel in the north west – with more than half (64 per cent) never having heard of the service.
Beth Tildesley, Project Officer at Healthwatch Lancashire who lead on the Military Veteran project, said: “This report identifies areas where health services, or access to these services, can be improved for this community. The public’s voice will enable us to challenge providers about access to health services for military veterans off the back of intelligence we have received to suggest that things do indeed need to be improved.”The revelations come in Healthwatch Lancashire’s ‘Supporting Access to Services for Military Veterans’ report.
A spokesperson for The Royal British Legion said: “We encourage all veterans who have recently left the Armed Forces to register with a GP and inform them of their service history.
“Early intervention is crucial so they should speak to their GP as soon as possible if they have any concerns regarding their health. It is equally important that healthcare professionals also ask patients whether they have served in the Armed Forces wherever possible to help ensure ex-service personnel are identified.”
According to the war pension and armed forces compensation scheme, there are 9,125 registered veterans in Lancashire.
Sue Freeth, chief executive of Combat Stress, said: “Military-related trauma is a very serious issue that affects a small but significant number of veterans. Left untreated, it can have a devastating impact on those affected and their loved ones.
“Each year Combat Stress receives more than 2,000 referrals from veterans. While the majority of those we support have post-traumatic stress disorder, they may also struggle with depression, anxiety, alcoholism or anger issues. It’s vital that veterans feel able to seek help. We work closely with the Ministry of Defence, NHS and other military organisations including the Veterans’ Gateway to meet the needs of veterans and overcome the stigma of mental health.
“As a country, we must continue investing in mental health services so veterans can receive the effective treatment they deserve and can return to leading a fulfilling life.”