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Organisation introduces initiatives to identify army veterans and provide support in their times of crisis, resulting in 78 per cent veterans eluding from the consumption of drugs/alcohol


    • Identify army veterans and their families whilst supporting and providing care to those that have served/currently serving
    • Deliver same-day support for mental health and social problems, signposting patients as per their clinical need


    • Introduced initiatives in collaboration and promoted the appointment of Armed Forces Champions (AFC) for GP practices to aid all army personnel
    • Established a 24/7 one-stop-shop and invested in the Veterans in Crisis project, facilitating 1-2-1 support
    • Provided access to medical records and appointments via the Armed Forces lead for patients when practices were closed


    • 40 GP practices appointed AFCs, dedicated to supporting the military corps
    • Enabled to identify patients from a military background within the medical records
    • 78% of veterans have eluded from the consumption of drugs/alcohol
    • Reduced clinician consultation time and workload as veterans supported each other


Sunderland CCG decided in the early days (2012) that identification of Veterans and providing the best possible care to those that have served/currently serving and their families were a priority. The Armed Forces Lead has given a presentation to the GP Practices, had speakers come to talk to over 300 Clinician’s and Managers to raise awareness.

All 40 GP practices now have a named Armed Forces Champion who are dedicated to supporting our Military. They understand the needs, the struggles that some of them may be facing. They have same-day contact when they need it. By investing in the Champions and Veterans in Crisis, patients have the support they need at a time that they need it, even if they have been drinking or taking drugs.

We are here to help them face their demons and support them. Sometimes it’s a social matter, still stress, we support them and help them face their challenges through using our Veterans in crisis team. Having excellent partnership working across the city has improved the lives of the Military Veterans and their families. Whilst we may not have all the answer’s we certainly have the links and Sunderland Altogether are making a difference


Sunderland Armed Forces Lead came into post as CCG’s took over from the PCT’s. The work over the years has been fruitful and rewarding for patients and staff.

The challenge -

  • Identifying Veterans.
  • Same-day support for veterans with mental health problems/social problems
  • Key Policies for reservists / Adult Volunteer Cadets / Spouses to be brought up to date
  • Understanding where to signpost to when support was needed
  • Data sharing amongst Partners

The ambition -

  • Implementing local incentive scheme, Increasing the number of veterans registered with GP Practices, using the 3 read codes to enable us to gather information, educate clinicians/staff.
  • Packs in all practices given out to those who have served
  • Armed Forces champion in every practice
  • Questionnaires at Reception
  • FMED 133 forms to enable the practice to request medical records from MOD
  • Change the terminology from ‘are you a veteran’ to ‘Have you served in the military regular or reservist’
  • 24/7 support for veterans in need/one-stop-shop
  • Influence Commissioners
  • Going for the Gold Employers Recognition award 2019 (achieved Bronze 2016 Silver Nov 2017)
  • Working in partnership with Local Authority/Emergency Services/DWP (ERA Draft action plan available)
  • To work with the university on a JSNA
  • Share our good work with other CCG’s


  • Identification of anyone from a military background within the medical records
  • Named armed forces champion in every practice (named on posters/TV Screens)
  • Access to medical records in GP Extended Access
  • Medical Records requested being received from MOD
  • Access to an appointment via Armed Forces Lead for patients that need to be seen in a crisis when the practices are closed.
  • Immediate support for those veterans even when they are under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • Links to Armed Forces Liaison officer for reservists/AVC and spouses employed by SCCG
  • Veterans supporting veterans, speaking their language, understanding their humour!
  • Participated in making year-long film following the veterans in our city. (Available on request)
  • Veterans/patients who have been seen since Jan 2018 - 123. 78% are no longer taking Drugs/Alcohol, (It is too early to say what the efficiency gains are at this time)
  • Clinicians work with the patient to ensure the patient is on the correct medication regime, Veterans in Crisis Support worker then take the lead in providing 1:1 support, building confidence, free lifetime gym membership, social support.
  • Veterans supporting veterans which reduces the consultation times for Clinicians and workloads
  • A model that could be implemented elsewhere


  • SCCG and our Armed Forces Lead tweet/facebook the work we do on a regular basis
  • Armed Forces Champion at the Air Show alongside the military last 6 years speaking to the public, handing out 1000 information bags/packs encouraging them to inform their GP Practice that they have served in the armed forces (see storyboard attached)
  • Working with MOD 8 Rifles, HMS Calliope. Working together when patients are not successful in their applications for joining up
  • Inviting MOD along to our Time in Time out sessions on various topics, ie serving 6 months on a tour of duty, what to expect. Encourage and support our workforce in becoming a reservist.
  • Following on from implementing the LIS and continuing to have 100% sign up from practices we have presented our work to NHS England Health Armed Forces Network.
  • Shared LIS including the policies we have asked the practices to adopt with Durham CCG. The offer has been made for our Armed Forces Lead (previously PM herself) to give support to embed this into their practices.
  • Shared with Practice Managers in Northumbria and again offer of support given.
  • Consult with Healthwatch on good practice
  • Shared out LIS with RCGP and offered support


We have a dedicated service second to one in Sunderland that every CCG should have. A named Armed Forces Lead/Armed Forces Liaison Officer/40 Armed Forces Champions linked to ‘veterans in crisis’ team that can work with the clinician, support those veterans in need at the time they need it. This benefits the patients as we get them seen immediately and onto a pathway of support and giving them back their lives. As well as 24/7 support we have working with Veterans in Crisis (Ger Fowler and Chris Batty) we also work with our partners (Sunderland partnership board for Military Veterans).

Having a citywide joint plan for the Military. The making the year-long film shows patients satisfaction, the tweets/likes we receive shows patients are on board. Meeting on a Tuesday with Veterans, listening to them.

Having direct links to organisations has reduced bureaucracy and time wasted in practice.

Altogether Sunderland, by working as a city has reduced the bureaucracy and Sunderland CCG/GP Practice’s and Veterans in Crisis has played a large part in improving the lives of those who have served/ currently serving and their families. We are proud of what we have achieved.


As well as the 24/7 support we have working with Veterans in Crisis, working with our partners (Sunderland Partnership Board for Military Veterans). Having a citywide joint plan for working as one for our Military. We as a city have come together. we share good practice, have agreed to have a military website so that the Sunderland People can see that we are working together. We are sharing good practice, all updating our policies to ensure we offer the same terms and conditions. Encouraging partners to go for Bronze/Silver/Gold Award.

  • Sunderland City Council/Gentoo
  • Sunderland City Hospitals
  • Emergency Services
  • DWP
  • MOD/Reservist and Adult Volunteer Cadets Section
  • Sunderland University/Sunderland College

We are currently planning Sunderland Air show where we will be together with the Military speaking to all about the work we are doing across our organisation.

VICs through some funding from SCCG is opening June a 3 story building that will be open 24/7. We have immediate access for the homeless veteran for a bed for 2 days, an education room to educate organisations around the veterans. podcast that we can use. Interview rooms, currently being decorated by veterans, fixtures and fitting donated. What next.. another documentary film…