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Harewood Medical Practice in Catterick

Caroline Griffiths from Harewood Medical Practice in Catterick tells us more about the Armed Forces Single Point of Contact initiative and how it is benefiting military families in across North Yorkshire.

Continuity of care can be a huge frustration for military families. Can you tell us a bit more about why this is and what specific challenges military families face when accessing NHS care? 

Continuity of care can be challenging for military families, especially if they are moving locations frequently. Children start new schools and register with new GP’s etc. Challenges that families may face include missed inoculations, referrals delayed or transfer of treatment.

What is the Armed Forces Families Single Point of Contact and how does it address these challenges? 

that not everyone in the NHS understands the specific health needs of Armed Forces families and what they are entitled to under the Armed Forces Covenant. We also know that some Armed Forces families have problems getting the right care and support, which can present further challenges and difficulties for them.

The Armed Forces Families Single Point of Contact offers support and guidance in navigating the NHS for Armed Forces Families and the Armed Forces community, to prevent disadvantage, with due regard to the Armed Forces Covenant.

What are the main benefits to an NHS Trust of having an Armed Forces Single Point of Contact? 

AFSPOC can help improve the service you provide to your patients and the community. It helps deliver the person the right care, at the right time and to the right place.

Where did the idea start and how did you bring it to life in Catterick? 

In 2020 NHS England commissioned an England wide engagement seeking views on how the NHS can improve care and support for Armed Forces families. We work in Catterick Garrison so began building good relationships with local and national support organisations and charities. The support has been positive and collaborative.

This system has been in place in Catterick for one year so far. What feedback have you had from families so far? / Can you share some examples of where this has worked well?

We’ve had positive feedback from families. One example is, whilst contacting Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services CAMHS (York), in relation to a referral we were looking into, it was realised there was no code on the forms to highlight that a child was part of a military family. This has now been changed. By having the space for this information on a form, it gives the health professional that vital information immediately.

What are your future plans for the programme and are there any plans for this to roll-out to other places across the UK? 

We are continuing our work across Catterick Garrison and Richmondshire and will begin to expand across Humber and North Yorkshire. There are plans for the AFSPOC service to roll out across England.

What advice would you give to healthcare professionals that want to better support service families? 

Ask the question! “Have you, or your spouse or partner, ever served in the Armed Forces” You can identify if people are part of the Armed Forces Community. Add a specific code to medical records to represent armed forces families. This means staff accessing records are aware of that situation.

For any families based in your area reading this, what advice can you give to them if they are worried about an up-and-coming move, or struggling to access NHS services.

When you have your new postcode, register with a GP and get on waiting lists for Dental Practices. Let staff know that you are part of the Armed Forces community. If you need help transferring treatment or finding practices contact AFSPOC, we’re here to help, and if we can’t, we’ll find someone that can!

 

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