Hospital trusts pledge to improve support for veterans

An additional eight hospital trusts have been accredited as ‘Veteran Aware’ by the Veteran Covenant Hospital Alliance (VCHA).

“These trusts should be very proud of the commitment they have made”

Tim Briggs

The programme aims to support all NHS trusts to ensure that servicemen and women are never disadvantaged compared to other patients and that all staff are trained on how to support the needs of veterans.

The latest accreditations come under the programme’s second wave, meaning there are now a total of 33 trusts on board.

The VCHA’s goal is to get every trust on board with the scheme. 

Professor Tim Briggs, chair of Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT), which manages the VCHA, said: “These trusts should be very proud of the commitment they have made to the servicemen 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,” said Professor Briggs, who is also the co-chair of the VCHA and NHS national director for clinical improvement.

General Lord Richard Dannatt, patron of the VCHA and former head of the British Army, said: “I am delighted that a second wave of our top hospitals has joined the VCHA. 

“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,” he added.

“The VCHA is playing a major part in helping our brave veterans win their personal battles,” he said.

To be awarded as ‘Veteran Aware’, each trust has to meet a number of key pledges.

They must ensure that the armed forces community is never disadvantaged compared to other patients, in line with the NHS’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.

Trusts must also ensure that staff are provided with relevant training on veteran specific cultures or needs, and that they give veterans fair job opportunities.

“The health and wellbeing battles for many veterans continue”

Richard Dannatt

In addition, trusts must make veterans, reservists and service families aware of the appropriate charities or NHS services beneficial to them, such as mental health services or support with financial or benefit claims.

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 latest accreditations were announced at the VCHA annual workshop in Birmingham on 9 May.

For this year’s VCHA annual workshop, around 120 guests from more than 60 trusts attended. The day saw organisations share best practice and learn more about the care needs of members of the armed forces.

Following the success of the event, the VCHA hopes to announce two further waves of acute trust accreditations during 2019, as well as agreeing the Veteran Aware manifestos for ambulance and mental health trusts.

The latest trusts to become accredited members are:

  • Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
  • Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust
  • Weston Area Health NHS Trust

The first wave of trusts to be accredited in 2017 were:

  • Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, Sussex Armed Forces Network;
  • Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust;
  • City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Doncaster and Bassetlaw Foundation Trust;
  • East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Norfolk and Norwich NHS Foundation Trust;
  • North Bristol NHS Trust;
  • North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust;
  • North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust;
  • Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Royal Edinburgh Hospitals, NHS Lothian;
  • Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust;
  • Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust;
  • South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Cardiff and Vale University Health Board;
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust