Before I write my report I need to make a point about my involvement in this group.
I see my role as taking issues forward and contributing towards the
involvement of care programmes for Veterans and civilians. It's
important to understand that this group also looks at the issues of
partners and dependents of Veterans - which includes loved ones acting
I will share information here to keep you aware of developments and
issues that arise. I am not a politician ... and have absolutely no
interest in becoming one. The point of sharing the information here is
to give YOU a voice. If you feel that you're not happy about something
or if you can come up with ideas and initiatives to help us to achieve
the key objectives ... or if you feel there is a better way to do
something ... then please comment on the blog. If you have any
concerns about being identified, please contact me via Facebook on https://www.facebook.com/Wolf.Photographer
and I can keep your identity confidential and still pass on your
contribution towards the work of the group. This initiative cannot
succeed without your involvement. Your contribution will help us to get
the issues right ... but most importantly it may go a long way towards
lessening your suffering as well as those people coming down the line
after us that are carrying invisible wounds.
There was clear frustration expressed by most of the Voluntary Veteran
led groups in attendance. There was a general feeling that we were
taking one step forwards and two steps back. We felt it was inexcusable
that the group has been meeting for three years or so now and that
there was still not any branding, leaflets, posters or a website that is
We also felt that this was now an NHS led group facilitating NHS funding
objectives rather than seeing to the holistic issues surrounding the care
and well being of Veterans.
The Chair's response was as follows:
He felt our frustration and understood our concerns. The group is not
NHS specific in any way. If we want items discussed, we should contact
the group secretary and have them placed on the agenda. He recognised
that some of us wanted this group to be able to lobby the NHS and the
Government for change but that this wasn't the remit of this group.
The Chair made it clear that all of the partner organisations in the NVFP will be eligible for some funding for their own projects.
Re-diagnosis of Patients transferring from other counties
I've asked for this item to be placed on the agenda. I and some of my
colleagues will be making it clear that it's not necessary where a
patient transfers with up-to-date medical reports, as it's a very
distressing thing to go through when you've already had all your scars
opened up for the original diagnosis. It's one thing to build up a
relationship between patient and practitioner ... it takes time and
effort on both sides. To force someone to go through it all again with a
stranger is emotional rape.
If patients are not transferring with up-to-date reports as a matter of
course then this is something that the NHS needs to pick up as a
National issue ASAP. Transfer of care for long term ill patients
depends on clear communication between the different services caring for
Guidelines for Interviewing Veterans
Two group members from the Criminal Justice System and myself were
meeting and working on a document. The purpose of the meeting was to
identify ways to facilitate a mental health review appointment for
patients who are ex-service personnel with a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD). This included pre-meeting preparation, the
review and subsequent follow up appointments. The issue has had no
further work done on it for the last two months or so. I've asked for
this to be an agenda item for the next meeting.
Organisational Updates are back
on the agenda in a formal way and will be minuted but will take place
after the main meeting. The Chair said that he didn't have the time to
sit in that part of the meeting because of other commitments.
What came out of this part of the meeting was that we need a lobbying
group that is independent of the NVFP, so that we can push certain
I felt that we could use Nottingham City Council to produce our own
leaflets and have them fund our printing costs. To that end I've asked
all the groups that would like a presence on the poster to email me a
logo, email address, weblink and telephone number together with a brief
sentence about what they offer. I'll design it and take it to the next
meeting as an agenda item if I have their requested data.
There was some discussion around why Veteran's don't access services for
themselves as soon as they get a hint of something being wrong within
The reasons we came up with were as follows:
Some are in denial of their own problems
Veteran's are used to being the dependable ones at the sharp end and coping
People don't always understand a Veteran's language (service slang)
Veterans can swear a lot when talking about issues that they find painful, this can be a barrier for some GPs
They're programmed to keep going until they drop
They have little trust of a society that sent them to war and then discarded them when they came 'home'
They don't fit into 'civvy street', people don't understand their their ways
Service life is black and white - civvy street is shades of grey
Being made to feel vulnerable and then mistreated
Many GPs are ignorant of mental health issues
Some GP's attitudes are appalling towards people with PTSD or other mental health issues
There is a lot of stigma attached to people with mental health problems and it ruins their difficult lives
We discussed how we could make GPs aware. A couple of the groups have
been trying to make contact with GP's Surgery Managers over the years
and have never received replies to their communications. I feel that we
should mail shot them carefully in a recorded way and build up an image
of their attitudes based on their responses or lack of them. I would
go so far as having a recommendation list based on their responses as to
whether they are capable of looking after the needs of people with
mental health problems.
The NVFP have a link in already and can start the ball rolling on
raising more awareness with GPs. I also feel that we should be
targeting Patient Liaison Groups as well as GPs and practice managers.
we may achieve better results.
As well as continuing to report on the progress of
the group, I'll be writing specific blog posts on the other
organisations that form the NVFP, as well as any key documents, in the
hope that you or a Veteran may find the information useful ... or that
you have a template for beginning your own group in your area.
Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu