As the UK marks Remembrance Day on November 11, 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.
Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust and North West Ambulance Service NHS 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.
There are now 58 NHS providers who have achieved Veteran Aware accreditation, including acute and specialist hospitals, community hospitals, mental health services and now ambulance services. The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust is the first ambulance service to receive the Veteran Aware accreditation.
Mental health service and hospitals 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 Remembrance Day, when the nation remembers those who have died in war.
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 their families, and it’s great to be able to recognise their hard work through this accreditation.”
“I am particularly delighted to announce the accreditation of our first Veteran Aware ambulance service, which is setting an excellent example to other ambulance services to follow. Several other ambulance services are already well underway to becoming accredited as Veteran Aware.”
The VCHA is working with NHS providers and organisations 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.