As the UK prepares to mark Armed Forces Day on Saturday (June 27), four more trusts have gained formal accreditation from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) for their commitment to improving care for veterans, reservists and members of the armed forces community.
Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust are the latest in a wave of NHS providers named as Veteran Aware, acknowledging their commitment to a number of key pledges, such as ensuring members of the armed forces community are never disadvantaged when receiving care, training staff on veteran-specific needs and supporting the armed forces as an employer.
Trusts recognised as Veteran Aware are also expected to display posters in their clinics and waiting rooms, highlighting their status and encouraging members of the armed forces community to identify themselves to staff.
The accreditations, awarded by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), comes in the lead-up to Armed Forces Day 2020, an event commemorating and supporting the men and women who make up the armed forces community, from serving troops to families, veterans and cadets.
There are now 53 acute and mental health providers across the England which have achieved Veteran Aware status.
The VCHA was inspired by the heroism of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC and Bar, a doctor who gave his life rescuing men on the battlefields of the First World War.
In 2014, leading orthopaedic surgeon Professor Tim Briggs CBE wrote The Chavasse Report on improving armed forces and veteran care while raising NHS standards, which recommended establishing a support network of hospitals. The resulting VCHA works closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement, service charities and the Ministry of Defence, and is managed by the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme.
Professor Briggs, Chair of GIRFT, NHS National Director for Clinical Improvement and Chair of the VCHA, said: “I’m very proud to welcome four more NHS trusts to the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance. They have all made a clear and important commitment to the servicemen and women of this country, and it’s great to be able to recognise their hard work through this accreditation.”
The VCHA is working with NHS trusts across the country to improve standards of care for the armed forces community. In time, the alliance hopes to see every NHS provider meeting the Veteran Aware standards. The VCHA encourages trusts to work with initiatives such as Step Into Health and the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, to ensure their organisations are ‘forces friendly’ employers.
More information on the VCHA can be found here.