A BLACK Country WWII veteran is on a one-man mission to raise awareness of a priority healthcare scheme for war pensioners.

Mick Coyle, aged 84, from Pensnett, was just 20 when he injured his leg after falling onto steel plates while working on the Royal Navy’s Russian convoys in the 1940s.

What started off as perhaps a minor injury has over time seriously deteriorated and Mr Coyle, who is president of Stourbridge’s Royal Naval Association, has undergone a series of operations.

These days NHS guidelines state the brave old sailor, who served on HMS Bulldog delivering vital supplies to Russia during wartime, is entitled to priority examination and treatment in NHS hospitals for any condition relating to the injury for which he receives his war pension.

But Mr Coyle says many medics, GPs and hospital staff - as well as many veterans themselves - are not even aware of the scheme, which aims to speed up treatment for those injured or disabled as a result of service in the armed forces.

He said: “If you are a war pensioner you get priority treatment, but when I’ve phoned local GPs and local hospitals none of them knew about it.”

The Royal Navy veteran says he has been doing his best to raise awareness of the scheme - by leaving copies of the NHS guidelines in hospitals, health centres, GP practices and even pubs across the Black Country.

He said: “I’ve had a hell of a response from war pensioners who just didn’t know about it. The Veterans Agency even posted one back to me with my own signature on.”

He has also been calling for a veterans ID card to be issued to old soldiers - and it appears his plea has finally been heard.

Veterans Minister Kevan Jones told Mr Coyle in person, when he stopped off at Stourbridge Royal British Legion, that he has plans to do just that - if Labour wins the General Election.

“I’ve already announced that’s what were going to do” he said.

Labour’s Lynda Waltho backed the plan, saying: “That’s a really important pledge.”

Mr Coyle added: “An ID card would really simplify things. At the moment if you go to your GP and say you are a war pensioner you’ve got nothing to show - they just have to take your word for it.”