Labour pledges rights for veterans in the NHS constitution

Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, will today pledge that a future Labour Government will guarantee specific healthcare rights for military veterans by enshrining the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant in the NHS constitution.

Labour believes that such a move would lead to greater awareness and recognition within the NHS of veterans’ care needs and help ensure that UK veterans will not be disadvantaged as a result of their service.

This would also ensure that specific health issues arising from service, notably in mental health, are dealt with through the highest quality care. Over 7,500 veterans who have served in Afghanistan or Iraq could develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

This announcement builds on Ed Miliband’s speech on the importance of mental health in October last year in which he highlighted mental health as the “biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age”. With this announcement, Labour aims to combine its push to improve mental healthcare with a new recognition of the unique challenges and circumstances faced by our veterans.

On a visit to Gloucester to an audience of military veterans, Ed Miliband is expected to say:

“The armed forces’ immeasurable courage keeps our nation safe. It is right we protect them just as they protect us. We must give all those who have served rights in the NHS constitution so they have access to the special healthcare they need and deserve.

“There is a significant minority who suffer from mental health problems on leaving the forces. Given the sacrifices they make in our name it is essential we give a guarantee that their health will be protected.

“Enshrining the principles of the military covenant in the NHS constitution would send a signal about the duty of care we owe to our veterans, and help to raise awareness of their specific needs, which is why it is an important change we pledge to make.”

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