About the VCHA
Who are we?
The Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) is a group of NHS providers, including acute, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts that have agreed to be exemplars of the best care for, and support to, the armed forces’ community.
We do this through our Veteran Aware accreditation model, which encourages providers to identify those patients with an armed forces background.
We contribute to the commitments made in the Armed Forces Covenant. This states that members of the armed forces community, whether they currently work in the military or who have worked, as well as service families, should not be disadvantaged in the care they receive and that where possible, receive personalised care to improve patient outcomes.
Our original remit was to accredit all NHS trusts in England, but through the NHS Long Term Plan has since expanded to Hospices and the Independent Care Sector with a similar scheme available for the accrediting of care homes. We are also looking at a process for the accrediting of Independent Care Boards.
The NHS Commitment to Armed Forces
The NHS in England is committed to raising standards among healthcare providers of Veterans’ services. The main document is the Armed Forces Covenant, which is enshrined in law through the Armed Forces Act.
Healthcare for the Armed Forces community: a forward view is seen as a companion document to the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) and outlines the commitments NHS England is making to improve the health and wellbeing of the Armed Forces community.
In 2014, Professor Tim Briggs CBE, wrote The Chavasse Report on improving armed forces’ and veteran care while raising NHS standards. His report, based on findings from his original orthopaedic GIRFT visits, recommended establishing a support network of hospitals. The resulting Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) works closely with NHS England & Improvements, service charities, and the Ministry of Defence.
With the introduction in 2012 of The Armed Forces Covenant and enshrined by law into the Armed Forces Bill (that received Royal Assent in 2021), all NHS providers will need to meet the requirements of this new legislation. Veteran Aware accreditation will support meeting these legal requirements and already a number of NHS providers are Veteran Aware accredited as exemplars of the provision of the best care for veterans and their families, to ensure that they are not disadvantaged in the care they receive. These providers work to help drive improvements in NHS care for people who serve, or who have served, in the UK armed forces, and their families. You can see our map of Veteran Aware accredited providers here.
VCHA is hosted by the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and is partnered with NHS England and Improvement’s Armed Forces Commissioning.
Our ambition is to accredit all NHS providers in England as Veteran Aware by the end of 2023 / first quarter of 2024. We are also piloting the accreditation of other healthcare organisations, including hospices and the Independent Sector as well as Integrated Care Boards.