Medical professionals in Plymouth have joined forces with local politicians and SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, to raise awareness of the health services available for veterans in the city.
A month long campaign to get veterans to identify themselves with their local GP practices was launched at the Plympton Health Centre on Monday 31st October 2016, supported by local MPs, Johnny Mercer and Gary Streeter, and Councillor Glenn Jordan, Ward Councillor for Plympton Chaddlewood and Cabinet Member for Culture.
Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth Moor View said:
“One of the challenges we face in supporting veterans across the city is enabling them to access the many services available for them. This proactive project of the Beacon Medical Group, working with SSAFA, is another brilliant example of how we can effectively get the message out there that there are health and wellbeing services available to the veteran community in our city.
“Pushing towards a joined up approach in supporting veterans across Plymouth is something I am fully committed to and hope we can lead the way in this as a city.”
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, but are often unwilling to seek help. Having worked in combat and war zones, the lives of these veterans are often impacted for decades after.
“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, 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.”
Beacon Medical Group, which runs Plympton Health Centre covering Plympton and parts of Forder Valley and Mainstone, has launched this campaign and will be rolling it out across their three other GP surgeries in South Devon (Chaddlewood Surgery, Ivybridge Health Centre and Wotter Surgery). They are calling on other GP practices across the city to do the same.
Local MP for South West Devon, Gary Streeter said:
“I welcome this initiative to increase healthcare provision for Veterans. Many of my constituents have served in the Armed Forces and it’s so important that they know the services available to them. I fully support this initiative of Beacon Health Group and hope it enables more of our veterans to access the services they need.”
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.