Medical professionals in Plympton have been working with Veterans Charities across Plymouth, to raise awareness of the health services available for veterans in the city.
A month long campaign was launched at the Plympton Health Centre, supported by Councillor Glenn Jordan, Ward Councillor for Plympton Chaddlewood and Cabinet Member for Culture, to get veterans to identify themselves with their local GP practices.
GP Trainee at Plympton Health Centre, Kate Pannell, said: “Growing up in Plymouth I have lived, and now work, alongside veterans for many years. Each having their own unique needs, and often being too proud to seek help. Having worked in combats and war zones, the lives of these veterans are being impacted on decades later.
“This campaign aims to raise awareness that it’s important for veterans to identify themselves with health professionals. It helps us gain a bigger picture, provide a better diagnosis and be more risk aware. For example, the most common health problems facing veterans might be; mental health issues, muscle and joint pain or even chemical exposure which can have an impact on heart or lung functions.
As the 2014 Veterans’ Transition Review Lord Ashcroft confirmed, for most veterans serving in the Armed Forces is as a positive experience but, for a minority, adverse physical and mental health outcomes can be substantial and can be compounded by other factors such as financial and welfare problems.
He went on to explain that there is a major issue of stigma which may prevent many veterans accessing healthcare services and is compounded by perceptions of a lack of understanding of the Armed Forces culture amongst civilian healthcare staff. Other main health issues facing the veteran population relates to common mental health problems and excess alcohol consumption. There is also an association with musculo-skeletal disorders for some veterans.
Although Plympton Health Centre, which is part of the Beacon Medical Group, has launched this campaign they will be rolling it out across their three other GP surgeries in South Devon (Chaddlewood Surgery, Ivybridge Health Centre and Wotter Surgery) and are asking other practices to do the same.
Councillor Glenn Jordan, Ward Councillor for Plympton Chaddlewood and Cabinet Member for Culture, said: “Being a city with a huge armed forces community both past and present we have a duty to ensure we are providing the best care possible to those that need it. Veterans have very different needs and it’s important that medical professionals know their history before making any diagnosis.
“So, as we remember our heroes as Armistice Day approaches lets also remember those that are still with us today – and make sure they are getting the support they need and deserve.”
As well as asking veterans to come forward and other medical practices to follow their lead, the Beacon Medical Group will be working with other community providers to identify gaps in the health service and what support groups can be introduced into the community to support veterans medically.
If you would like to let the practice know that you are a veteran then please complete our contact form here