The James Paget University Hospital has been named a ‘Veteran Aware’ Trust in recognition of its commitment to improving NHS care for veterans, reservists, members of the armed forces and their families. The accreditation, from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), acknowledges the Trust’s commitment to a number of key pledges, including:
Ensuring that the Armed Forces community is never disadvantaged compared to other patients, in line with the NHS’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.
Training relevant staff on veteran specific culture or needs.
Making veterans, reservists and service families aware of appropriate charities or NHS services beneficial to them, such as mental health services or support with financial and / or benefit claims.
Supporting the Armed Forces community as an employer.
The James Paget University Hospital is now one of 80 members of the VCHA and is part of a growing number of NHS Trusts gaining this accolade.
Paul Morris, Director of Nursing at the Trust said “We’re really proud to be named a ‘Veteran Aware’ Trust. This highlights how important it is to us to be inclusive of everyone in our community, including those who have been members of our armed forces. We are keen to ensure our veterans and service leavers are aware of their options and support available to them. Whatever your background may be, making sure you receive a high standard of care is our priority and we’re here to support not just our patients, but their families along the way too.”
Trusts recognised as ‘Veteran Aware’ will display posters in their clinics and public waiting areas urging anyone who has served in the Armed Forces to make themselves known to staff. The VCHA was inspired by the heroism of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC, 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, which recommended establishing a support network of hospitals and raising standards. The resulting VCHA works closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement, service charities and the Ministry of Defence.
Professor Briggs, NHS National Director for Clinical Improvement and co-chair of the VCHA, said: “These trusts should be very proud of the commitment they have made to the service men and women of this country. Welcoming them into the VCHA is a major step towards our aim of ensuring every NHS trust in the country is Veteran Aware.”
General, the Lord Dannatt, Patron of the VCHA and former head of the British Army, said: “Although the British Armed Forces are not currently engaged in high profile campaigns such as in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, the health and wellbeing battles for many veterans continue. The VCHA is playing a major part in helping our brave veterans win their personal battles. “