Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is today pleased to announce that it has been accredited as Veteran Aware, formally recognising its commitment to the Armed Forces community.
The announcement comes with Armed Forces Day (24 June) being less than a week away. This is a national celebration of the Armed Forces and all that they do in keeping the nation safe.
Accreditation was carried out by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), which is a group of NHS healthcare providers in England.
The VCHA’s aim is to develop, share and drive the implementation of best practice that will improve Armed Forces Veterans’ care, while at the same time raising standards for everyone based on the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.
The Trust’s accreditation means that 153 NHS providers across England are now Veteran Aware accredited, and the alliance aims to have all Trusts accredited by the end of 2023. This builds on its signing of the Armed Forces Covenant and its gaining of the Silver Defence Employment Recognition Scheme status; it is working towards Gold now.
The Trust provides hospital services across Bradford and the surrounding areas, serving a population of around 500,000 people and provides specialist services for some 1.1 million. It also has a background in research having opened its £3m flagship research centre – the Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research in 2019.
A key part of the Trust’s Veteran Aware plan is to recruit veterans as volunteers within the Trust, to meet and greet patients from the armed forces community and provide advice and support if required. It is estimated that more than 9,000 people are from the Armed Community in the Bradford area.
VCHA chairman Prof Tim Briggs, CBE, said: “I want to thank Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for its hard work in demonstrating the NHS’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant. This accreditation recognises its work identifying and sharing best practice across the NHS as an exemplar of the best standards of care for the Armed Forces community.”
Regional Lead Mandy Stokes said: “I am delighted with the work done by Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in achieving this accreditation award. The Trust has demonstrated its commitment to both patients and staff from the armed forces community by understanding and supporting the needs of this cohort and building this into the Trust’s core business.”
Bradford Teaching Hospitals’ Chief Nurse, Karen Dawber, said: “It is especially significant for our Trust to be awarded Veteran Aware status as we approach Armed Forces Day (June 24) as many patients and colleagues are either veterans or reservists.
“We want to ensure that veterans are able to access the healthcare that they need and so we’re delighted to have been given this special accreditation.
“Our work in continuing to support both colleagues and patients who’ve been members of the armed forces, including reservists, as this is the best way of saying ‘thank you’ to everyone who has dedicated and served their country.”
The Trust also created a new training package which will enable NHS colleagues to understand the needs of servicing members of the armed forces, as well as veterans.
Veterans Lead Fiona Mattison (Left) and Chief Nurse Karen Dawber
Bradford Teaching Hospitals’ Armed Forces Champion, Fiona Mattison, is the Complaints Lead for Urgent, Elderly and Specialist Medicine clinical service unit (CSU) but previously served as a Senior Aircraft Woman in the Royal Air Force (RAF) from 1986 to 2000 when she did tours of duty in Cyprus and Germany.
After leaving the RAF, she moved to the NHS, working first at Broadmoor Hospital, where she rose to Head of Complaints, before moving back to Bingley to be closer to family. She joined Bradford Teaching Hospitals in 2017.
Fiona was 16 when she joined the RAF.
Fiona said: “I am very proud to have worked on this important piece of work as we looked at our patient population, who have served in the British Armed Forces, and those who are still serving, to ensure they receive the best support possible if they need our services.
“We are promoting are new ‘Veterans Aware Accreditation’ status across the Trust so that our patients know the importance of letting us know their status, so we can provide the appropriate care they require.
“We have an extensive Armed Forces Directory and can also provide information on the help available within Bradford District and Craven, and we are launching our ‘Forces Friends’ recruitment project, so that we enlist a cohort of volunteers who will be available to provide advice and support, or just a listening ear, to our patients.
“As a veteran myself, it has been an absolute privilege to be able to be part of this work to become accredited as a veteran aware Trust. When you leave your force’s life, especially following a long service, it is really important to have that support when you are at your most vulnerable.”