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MusculoskeletalJun 24, 2022

Physios urged to help GP practices become Veteran Friendly Accredited on eve of Armed Forces Day

Physiotherapists who act as the first port of call for patients with musculoskeletal (MSK) problems in primary care settings can help to 'make a difference' for veterans of the Armed Forces. That is the message from Dr (Brigadier Retired) Robin Simpson, when he spoke to PhysioUpdate about the important role that first contact practitioners (FCPs) can play in an initiative known as Veteran Friendly GP Practice Accreditation. This nationwide scheme is hosted by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
Speaking on 24 June (the day before Armed Forces Day is celebrated), Dr Simpson said: 'Becoming the veteran clinical lead at your practice is a great opportunity for first contact practitioners (FCPs) to use their skills and knowledge to really make a difference to veteran patients.'
One Armed Forces veteran in two has a long-term illness, disability or infirmity


Free training and materials

Dr (Brigadier Retired) Simpson, who is the RCGP Clinical Champion for Veterans, added: 'MSK issues are one of the principal reasons for medical discharge in all the British Armed Forces, and some veteran patients may face issues such as chronic pain and require rehabilitation treatment, as a result of their service.
'With their specialist knowledge, FCPs are perfectly placed to take on the role of clinical lead for veterans at their practice, ensuring they receive the best care possible.'

More than 1,300 GP practices have signed up for Veteran Friendly Practices Accreditation, which gives them free access to training and materials to help them identify, support and refer patients for best outcomes. The application process for accreditation takes 20 minutes and can be completed by any member of staff. Practices are supported to promote their involvement in the scheme.

Better outcomes achieved

Earlier this year, a University of Chester report revealed that the RCGP scheme leads to better health outcomes for veterans. For more information, visit: https://bjgpopen.org/content/early/2022/04/05/BJGPO.2022.0012

The University of Chester’s evaluation found that 99 per cent of practices would recommend it and that 84 per cent of practice staff report having a better understanding of meeting the needs of veterans since joining. 

Elsewhere, research has shown that about one veteran in two (52 per cent) has a long-term illness, disability or infirmity, and more than one in 10 (12 per cent) experiences probable post-traumatic stress disorder.

Armed Forces Day is a chance for GP practices to recognise those men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. I can think of few better ways to honour their service than by championing their healthcare [Dr (Brigadier Retired) Simpson

Practice programme is 'evidence-based'

Dr (Brigadier Retired) Simpson, added: 'Armed Forces Day is a chance for GP practices to recognise those men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. I can think of few better ways to honour their service than by championing their healthcare.

'We know that the accreditation scheme is having a beneficial effect on patients, with very little workload increase, ensuring that practice teams are equipped to help veterans by identifying them, supporting them with their health needs and referring them to specific services where needed.

'I would strongly encourage practices to sign up to this free evidence-based and now proven programme.'

To find out more about the scheme, visit: https://www.rcgp.org.uk/veterans

To read another PhysioUpdate article on this topic, visit: https://www.physioupdate.co.uk/news/first-contact-physiotherapists-are-perfectly-placed-to-be-veteran-clinical-leads-in-gp-practices/

Author: Ian A McMillan
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