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Priority NHS Healthcare for Veterans

Under long-standing arrangements, war pensioners in England, Scotland and Wales have been given priority NHS treatment for the conditions for which they receive a war pension, subject to clinical need

This provision has now been extended to all veterans where a person has a health problem as result of their military service. They no longer need first to have applied and become entitled to a war pension.

How the process works

When referring a patient who they know to be a Veteran for secondary (more specialist) care, GPs have now been asked to consider if, in their clinical opinion, the condition may be related to the patient’s military service. Where this is the case, and with the patient’s agreement, it should be made clear in the referral.

Where secondary care clinicians agree that a veteran’s condition is likely to be Service-related, they have been asked to prioritise veterans over other patients with the same level of clinical need. Veterans will not be given priority over other patients with more urgent clinical needs. It is for the clinician in charge to determine whether a condition is related to Service and to allocate priority.

Except in exceptional circumstances, the extension does not apply to anyone who had already been referred to treatment or who was already undergoing treatment before the new arrangements came into effect. To prioritise them could affect other people who have already received dates for appointments.

Compensation Scheme Payments

It is important to note that a veteran who has a disorder recognised as qualifying for priority treatment, does not then automatically fulfil the criteria for an award of a war pension or Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payment. Veterans given priority treatment are encouraged to contact the Veterans UK helpline on 0808 1914 2 18 to discuss eligibility under the schemes.

Free Prescriptions

Veterans who are not war pensioners do not have the same access to free prescriptions that war pensioners receive.


Veterans are able to use the NHS complaints system in the same way as war pensioners, to resolve any breakdowns in the arrangements for priority

More Information

For more information on the implementation of priority treatment for Veterans in each country, click on the links below.
England: click here
Scotland: click here
Wales: click here



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