Many veterans have physical illnesses.
Most veterans’ injuries and illnesses can be dealt with using routine NHS referral pathways. There is an NHS Wales policy to offer veterans priority access to healthcare. You can find the relevant policy here http://www.veteransuk.info/vets_issues/healtcare.htm
Within every health board in Wales, an independent Board Member is identified to act as an Armed Forces & Veterans Champion and is supported by a member of the Executive Board. It is the responsibility of the Armed Forces & Veterans Champion to advocate on behalf of veterans and service personnel.
A list of Armed Forces and Veterans Champions can be found on the Welsh Government web site. http://gov.wales/docs/dhss/publications/170116veteransen.pdf
There is special provision available for some specific physical problems that can affect veterans, such as:
- NHS Wales Prosthetic and Amputee Rehabilitation services are delivered by three specialist centres in
Enhanced prosthetic services for veterans with a forces-attributable injury living in Wales will match the leading technology provided by the MOD.
- The Royal British Legion provides support to veterans with hearing loss and tinnitus and those with mobility difficulties.
Information is available on the Veterans’ Medical Funds webpage: www.rbl.org.uk/vmf
Veteran Trauma Network
The Veterans Trauma Network Wales (VTN Wales) has been established to ensure that ex-Service Personnel who suffered physical injury as a result of their service, can access the timeliest and most appropriate care for their injuries following discharge from the Armed Forces.
Most veterans’ injuries can be dealt with using routine NHS referral pathways. However, the severity or unusual nature of some combat injuries means that veterans sometimes need specialist input that may not be available in their health board.
VTN Wales provides a central service to assist individuals, healthcare professionals & the third sector with relevant advice on appropriate referral pathways if ongoing support is required and can assist with securing appropriate funding where cross-border referral is necessary. The network consists of a collaboration of specialist clinicians with relevant expertise who have an interest in providing veterans’ care.
Referrals to the network can be made by GPs, other clinicians, and third sector organisations when there is an unmet need for specialist assessment or treatment for physical conditions relating to service in the Armed Forces as illustrated below-
We strongly encourage veterans to seek referral via their GP and other doctors. However, veterans are able to contact us directly if they feel they cannot do this. We will then seek to coordinate our work with the patients’ medical team.
VTN Wales launched on 3 October 2019 and was originally hosted by Cardiff & Vale University Health Board. In January 2021 hosting of VTN Wales was transferred to the South Wales Trauma Network’s (SWTN) Operational Delivery Network (ODN), hosted by Swansea Bay University Health Board.
The SWTN covers South Wales, West Wales and South Powys and can provide direct referrals for VTN Wales services within the Welsh tertiary centres. For patients in North and Mid-Wales, VTN Wales is closely linked with equivalent colleagues in VTN England working across Liverpool, Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent and can arrange any necessary referrals appropriately.