Armed Forces veterans (AFVs) are first and foremost citizens of the UK and are therefore—like all UK residents—entitled to universal healthcare, free at the point of need. This means that AFVs have nearly all their healthcare needs met by the NHS, which provides access to a full range of generic services. However, since 2013 there has been an Armed Forces team that can also support veterans. This review is an assessment of the work of this group over the last eight years. The health needs of AFVs have been investigated and are not significantly different from those of their demographically matched peers. However, due to their demographics, selection at recruitment and their roles, AFVs compared with the general population are more likely to be male, white and old and have fewer pre-existing or hereditary conditions. However, they do suffer from higher rates of musculoskeletal injury, different patterns of mental health illness and have historically been higher users—and abusers—of alcohol and tobacco. In addition to supporting mainstream services used by AFVs, the NHS in England commissions a bespoke range-specific ‘Priority’ NHS services such as those for mental health or for rehabilitation of veterans using prostheses. New interventions are continuing to be developed to improve AFVs’ healthcare and are aligned to the NHS Long Term Plan and the restoration and recovery plans after the COVID-19 pandemic.
- mental health
- health services administration & management
- health policy
- organisation of health services
- occupational & industrial medicine
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Contributors AB was the main author and editor. His colleagues contributed subject matter expertise.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests The authors are all employees of NHS England, which is the subject of the review.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.