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Trust praised for support to veterans

22 July 2022


Our Trust has been congratulated by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) for its ‘significant work’ and commitment to improving NHS care for veterans, reservists, members of the armed forces and their families. 

The VCHA has just formally approved the Trust’s one year review of its work as a Veteran Aware Trust. The review is used as an opportunity to assess progress and confirm plans for future activity.

A key development during the year was the appointment of the Trust’s first Armed Forces Advocate.  Chris Blyth (pictured below) joined our team earlier this summer to provide support to patients who have served and ensure that our hospital is a friendly and welcoming place for staff, patient and visitor veterans and serving personnel.

Chris Blyth pictured in front of our hospital with a our ground NHS sign in front of him. He holds two sheets with logos on - one Veteran Aware, the other the silver award 

In a letter to the Trust, VCHA Patrol General Lord Dannatt and VCHA National Lead Professor Tim Briggs said:

“It is our pleasure to congratulate the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on the success of its one year review.

“Following the trust’s initial accreditation awarded in June 2021 and since the recent appointment of your Armed Forces Advocate, it is evident there has been significant work undertaken for this agenda in your organisation.

“We thank you for your hard work demonstrating the NHS’ commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.”

As a Veteran Aware Trust, the James Paget has committed 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 is one of 80 members of the VCHA and is part of a growing number of NHS Trusts gaining this accolade.

In a related development, the Trust has also had its 2017 Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Award revalidated. 

The scheme, run by the Ministry of Defence, encourages employers to support defence and inspire others to do the same. 

It encompasses bronze, silver and gold awards for employer organisations that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community, and align their values with the Armed Force Covenant.

Organisations such as the James Paget that achieve silver award status must satisfy a set of criteria including signing the Armed Forces Covenant, proactively demonstrating that service personnel/armed forces community are not unfairly disadvantaged as part of their recruiting and selection processes, and actively ensuring that their workforce is aware of their positive policies towards defence people issues.