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Better healthcare for servicemen

PUBLISHED: 10:30 01 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:40 06 July 2010

NORFOLK'S NHS is promising priority healthcare for servicemen, veterans and their families in future.

Servicemen already get quicker treatment for conditions related to their service, such as war injuries, but now this is being promised for all health conditions.

NORFOLK'S NHS is promising priority healthcare for servicemen, veterans and their families in future.

Servicemen already get quicker treatment for conditions related to their service, such as war injuries, but now this is being promised for all health conditions. NHS Norfolk, which covers most of the county but not Yarmouth, has made the improvement part of its operating plan for the coming financial year in response to a government pledge.

One of the specific plans is a “flagging” system where a GP can clearly identify a patient as a serviceman or veteran when they are being referred on for further treatment, for example in hospital.

John Battersby, director of public health for NHS Norfolk, said: “In line with the government's operating framework that was published last year, NHS Norfolk has made a clear commitment to ensure that we prioritise and have equity of access for military personnel, including their families and veterans across Norfolk. NHS Norfolk will undertake a detailed piece of work to take this work forward in the forthcoming financial year, reviewing current services and whether they meet demand.

“Every effort will be made to give access to services for this target group and we will work with our providers to support this ambition.”

Most military bases have their own medical centres offering GP-style services which are their first port of call for healthcare.

Brian Wilson, chairman of Norwich Combined Services and chairman of the Royal Signals Association, said: “It sounds brilliant. Many ex-servicemen have health problems, but they are too proud to ask for help. Perhaps if they knew about something like this it would make them more likely to come forward. And when young servicemen come back many of them have health problems.”

Meanwhile, NHS Yarmouth and Waveney is focusing on servicemen's mental health needs, and is pledging to support Navigator, a support group set up by ex-servicemen in Norfolk and Waveney. It says it will give priority access for service-related conditions but is not planning to do so for more general health problems.

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