Veteran Friendly Practice

We are proud to have become an Armed Forced Veteran Friendly practice. If you served in the Armed Forces, if even for one day, there is a whole host of additional NHS services available to you, so please do let us know so that we may send you the information and please see the links below of organizations that may be able to help you.


Briefing October 2021 Armed Forces healthcare briefing and latest updates on COVID -19

Please see below October 2021 Briefing 

COVID-19 AF briefing_OCT 2021_ISSUE.pdf



Supporting patients following events in Afghanistan

We are conscious that some patients registered at the Birchwood Practice may be affected by current events in Afghanistan.  The Birchwood is accredited by the Royal College of General Practitioners as one which specialises in the care of military veterans and their families. All the team have been trained in the care of military veterans and their families. If recent events have affected you and you wish to seek help, please come forward.

NHS care for the Armed Forces community, June 2021

The NHS is responsible for providing all hospital and most community services for serving personnel (except for mental health, general practice and rehabilitation services). The NHS also provides nearly all community, general practice and hospital services for the families of serving personnel, reservists and veterans. Included as part of this are the following dedicated services and initiatives to support the Armed Forces community.
Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service is the new overarching name for the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and the Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS). The service provides a broad range of specialist mental health and wellbeing care and support for Service leavers, reservists, veterans and their families. Further information and contact details for Op COURAGE in each region are available on the NHS website.
Veterans Trauma Network (VTN)
The VTN provides care and treatment to those with a service-attributable physical health condition. Located in 12 major trauma centres (Plymouth, Oxford, London (three centres), Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Cambridge, Brighton and Middlesbrough), with links to five specialist NHS trusts (Frimley Park, Preston, Salisbury, East Grinstead), the network works closely with Defence Medical Services, national centres of clinical expertise, Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, as well as military charities, to provide a complete package of care. It is run largely by healthcare professionals who are either veterans or serving personnel. GPs can email to refer veterans to the service.
Veterans Prosthetics Panel (VPP)
The VPP provides funding on a named veteran basis to NHS Disablement Service Centres (DSC) to ensure that veterans who have service related limb loss can access high quality prosthetics regardless of which DSC they attend. More information here.
Armed Forces personnel in transition: Integrated Personal Commissioning for Veterans Framework (IPC4V) IPC4V is a personalised care approach for serving personnel who have complex and enduring physical, neurological and mental health conditions that are attributable to injury whilst in service. It provides a framework for effectively planning and delivering personalised care in line with the Armed Forces Covenant. Central to this is an improved discharge planning process, starting approximately nine months before these individuals leave the military. This means that the MOD, health and social care, Armed Forces charities and other organisations involved in the care of these individuals are brought together at an earlier point in the care pathway, ensuring care and support arrangements are in place as they transition to civilian life and beyond.
Personalised care for veterans with a long term physical, mental or neurological health condition or disability
Ex-forces with a complex and life-long health condition may be eligible for the veterans personalised care programme. Eligible individuals will have a single personalised care plan for all their health and wellbeing needs that is developed with them and a range of organisations, including health and social care and military charities. To apply, individuals should contact their local clinical commissioning group.
Veteran friendly GP practice accreditation
Over the next few years, NHS England and NHS Improvement, together with the Royal College of General Practitioners, are rolling out the veteran friendly GP practice accreditation scheme across England. This scheme, which is intended to help ensure practices are equipped to best care for veterans and their families, has already accredited over 950 surgeries.
The Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA)
The VCHA aims to improve NHS care for the Armed Forces community by supporting trusts, health boards and other providers to identify, develop and showcase the best standards of care. To date, 76 trusts have been accredited as ‘Veteran Aware’, having demonstrated their commitment to eight core manifesto standards, including signing the Armed Forces Covenant, raising awareness of veterans’ healthcare needs among staff, and establishing links with local support providers.
For further information, email or visit the NHS website

Veteran Friendly Practices Knowledge Update - Spring 2021

We are delighted to highlight and share some important developments in veteran’s healthcare. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support of the veteran community, particularly during these challenging times with a large diversion of time and resource dedicated to the important vaccination campaign.


Johnny Mercer, the Minister for Defence, People and Veterans has taken a significant interest in the RCGP veteran accreditation programme and has openly stated that he wants to see all GP Practices signed up. There are currently in excess of 900 veteran friendly accredited practices in England and this number is increasing. Please spread the word and promote the veteran accreditation programme to those practices not already signed up. 


Further information can be found on the programme webpage. For expressions of interest please contact


“Leaving the military introduces a rupture across all levels”

TRIAD study, King’s College London, January 2021


Many protective factors are present whilst serving which help individuals to compartmentalise their traumatic experiences. Leaving the military marks the loss of many of these support structures and the conscious acknowledgement of traumatic experience may manifest post-service. These important findings from the recently published TRIAD study further substantiate the importance of providing high quality and accessible holistic care for individuals as they transition to civvy street.


Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, including a new and urgent emergency mental health service for veterans


The NHS has launched Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, the new overarching name for the three NHS veterans mental health services (Veteran’s Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), Veteran’s Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and Veteran’s Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS)). The new name has been developed by veterans and their families and is intended to make the services easier to find and access.


Veterans can self-refer or be referred by their GP, a charity or family or friends to access specialist care through this single route. Further details are available on the NHS website.


More than 13,000 veterans have benefitted from specialist care for problems such as anxiety and depression and almost 2,000 have received help for more complex problems such as PTSD.


The NHS Veterans Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS) for veterans needing urgent help who are in mental health crisis has been trialled in some regions since October 2020. As part of the wider Op COURAGE service offer, it is now being rolled out across the country, with those needing urgent receiving a same day referral. Contact details are available via the above link.


No cost webinar on the NHS care of Armed Forces veterans


RCGP will host a free online webinar on NHS care of Armed Forces veterans on Monday 19 April 2021, 13:00 - 14:00.


This webinar is the first in a new series of resources to help GPs to meet the healthcare needs of veterans and their families. It will feature lived experience from veterans, currently available services, and referral pathways. Register now.


The event will be chaired by Nicky Murdoch, Independent Chair of the Armed Forces Public Patient Voice Group for NHS England and NHS Improvement. Other panellists will be Dr Jonathan Leach, RCGP Joint Honorary Secretary, and Tom Fox for the Armed Forces Public Patient Voice Group for NHS England and NHS Improvement.


Evaluation of the veteran friendly accreditation programme


Westminster Centre for Research in Veterans, University of Chester will be carrying out an evaluation of the veteran friendly accreditation programme. All veteran accredited practices will be contacted from May 2021 onwards and invited to participate in this process via email. The format will be a short, user-friendly questionnaire which should take 10 minutes to complete. Your help in completing the survey will inform the important evaluation process and we wish to thank you in advance for your support.


The RCGP veteran friendly GP practices was shortlisted as a finalist for the HSJ Awards 2020 Military and Civilian Health Partnership which took place on 17 March 2021.