Care for UK military veterans is 'flawed'

The government is failing to abide by its military covenant, medical experts who treat injured soldiers have said.

Leading professors in psychology and orthopaedics say the healthcare system is not providing veterans with the service they have been promised.

The Armed Forces Covenant, described as a duty of care to the armed forces, states veterans should be "sustained and rewarded" .

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it was "fully committed" to the covenant.

But Labour's shadow minister for veterans, Gemma Doyle, said the medical experts' comments were a "damning indictment", and proof the government had failed to meet its obligations.

Shot in the face

More than 200,000 men and women have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.

The military covenant states that soldiers could be called upon to make the "ultimate sacrifice" but in return they and their families will be "sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service".

The moral obligation to treat veterans should not stop when service ends, the covenant states, saying veterans should receive priority healthcare from the NHS when they are being treated for a condition dating from their time in the armed forces.

Once a veteran leaves the forces, their healthcare is the responsibility of the NHS.

Simon Brown, a corporal in the Army for more than 10 years, was shot in the face by a sniper in 2006 and was medically discharged four years later.

"The bullet hit my left cheek between the eye and the nose and exited my right cheek between the nose and the ear," he said.

"My cheek bones were obliterated, my jaw was broken in four places, I'd lost my left eye totally and there was very little hope of any sight returning to my right eye."

Almost a decade on, he says he has still not had all the surgery and treatment he requires and insists it is not the fault of staff, rather the system is flawed.

'Good investment'
"It has been long processes - there's been a lot of jumping through hoops you know. I actually had to see a committee to see whether or not I was entitled to free plastic surgery," he said.

If veterans got the treatment they are entitled to they could remain "productive members of society", he said.

"I see it as it's actually a good investment to look after these people and give them the support and help they need."

The main principles of the military covenant were enshrined in law in the Armed Forces Act 2011.

The government says the defence secretary must report annually on the progress made by ministers in honouring the covenant.

However, Professor Neil Greenberg, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said ministers were failing to keep their promise.

News taken from BBC - For full article: