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The impact on individuals during the Coronavirus pandemic has been huge, but our NHS has been under pressure like never before. As statistics on NHS waiting times for March are released, our Head of Clinical & Medical Services, Carol Betteridge OBE, reflects on the bigger picture for our wounded, injured and sick veterans and their loved ones.

Captain RN Betteridge ran the military hospital in Helmand during the Afghan war, and now leads our Veterans Clinical Service, assessing the medical needs of individual veterans, ensuring they receive the health services they need and working with specialists across the charity to ensure there is a clear support plan based around their specific recovery goals.

While the NHS statistics are concerning, with almost five million people waiting for medical treatment in England, more than half a million in Wales and a similar picture in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Carol is urging anyone with a concern about their physical or mental health to reach out for support.

“It’s essential that we don’t miss the opportunity to pick up serious health conditions, where timely diagnosis and treatment can have a huge effect on outcomes for patients.

"Although there is a waiting list for some medical assessments and procedures, I would encourage anyone who is concerned about their health to contact their GP in the first instance and make an appointment to discuss this.

“We all clapped for our carers and it’s important to understand that many of our NHS workers will be exhausted, having been pushed to their limits and are doing their best to pick up the backlog of the last 14 months.

A pensioner clapping for carers outside his home
A pensioner clapping for carers outside his home - Derek Sewell, Pixabay

“We must remember that the frontline health staff who are currently delivering our vaccination programme and have been treating Covid cases on the wards, will be returning to their ‘day jobs’ in the NHS, and it’s vital that we appreciate all they have been through, and have done for the nation through this crisis," 

she says.

Throughout the pandemic, Carol’s expert team has continued to deliver clinical support to wounded veterans across the country in a Covid-secure way, delivering bespoke 1-2-1 advice over the phone, through video messaging, and in-person where appropriate and following guidelines, including at the War Injuries Clinic in Salisbury.

To help mitigate the impact of the NHS waiting times, Carol’s team have been delivering ‘health coaching’ to empower veterans to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to take ownership of their health goals; actively participate in their own care and increase engagement with treatment services.

“There have been challenges as we’ve had to adapt and find new and innovative ways of working, but our team has always had our veterans front and centre of our priorities, and we will continue to deliver our expertise in every region,” she said.

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