Alder Hey signs up to Veteran Aware Programme

Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has become the first children’s hospital trust in England to be accredited as Veteran Aware, recognising that the armed forces community includes not only those serving or who have served but also families and carers.

The Trust is one of Europe’s biggest and busiest children’s hospitals and cares for more than 330,000 children, young people and their families every year.

The Trust met standards laid down by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), a national NHS team.  The VCHA’s aim is to make sure that patients from the Armed Forces Community, including families and dependents, are paid due regard and are not disadvantaged in terms of access to and outcomes of healthcare, as a result of their military life in line with the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.

It does this by developing, sharing and driving the implementation of best practice, while at the same time raising standards for everyone in NHS Trusts in England. The NHS Long Term Plan has since expanded the programme to include integrated care boards, hospices and the Independent Care Sector.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve, or who have served, in the armed forces and their families, are treated fairly.

The accreditation of Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust means that 147 NHS providers across England are now Veteran Aware accredited, and the alliance aims to have all trusts in England accredited by the end of the first quarter of 2024.

Given the Trust also offers paediatric services at a number of community sites and holds local clinics across Merseyside, Cumbria, Shropshire, Wales and the Isle of Man the potential size of the Armed Forces community is vast.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that more than 329,000 people across North West England and Wales had served in either the UK’s regular Armed Forces or the Reserves, with nearly 220,000 of these from across the North West.

Mandy Stokes, Regional Lead for the VCHA, said:  “I am so pleased that the Trust have been recognised as the first children’s hospital in the country to be accredited, demonstrating their understanding and commitment of the armed forces community as whole, specifically families of those that are serving or have served.  I look forward to continuing to work with the Trust on this important agenda.”

VCHA Chairman, Prof Tim Briggs CBE, said: “More and more trusts are seeing the value of Veteran Aware accreditations as seen through the numbers of trusts that are now accredited. We now stand at 70% of NHS Trusts across England, which is a testament both to the dedication of my team and to the wider NHS family who work tirelessly on behalf of the military community despite the many pressures they will be under. Well done all.”

Nathan Askew, Chief Nursing Officer at Alder Hey said:“We are proud to have been awarded veteran aware status and to be the first children’s hospital in England to achieve this.  We are committed to ensuring our armed forces personnel and their families do not suffer detriment and that ourstaff who serve and have served are fully supported as we continue on our journey.”

The VCHA will be holding a national best practice conference at the Barbican in London on September 20, 2023 from 10am to 4pm. For more details please go to our Eventbrite page on

More updates