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 March 2023. We continue to guide and support our trusts to achieve accreditation. Accreditation involves providers sharing good practice and linking with local services for the Armed Forces Community and raising staff awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant. The Armed Forces Bill, alongside NHS England’s commitment to the Armed Forces Community forward view, aims to ensure that Veterans Healthcare is exemplary. During 2021, and into 2022, we continue to explore whether other healthcare providers – hospices and the Independent Sector – can also work towards accreditation.
What is involved in becoming Veteran Aware?
The NHS Commitment to Armed Forces
The NHS in England is committed to raising standards among healthcare providers of Veterans’ services. The Armed Forces Covenant health commitments are included in the NHS Constitution and Mandates, and form part of the contract with every NHS commissioned provider. This helps to ensure all healthcare professionals will be considerate of these services
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 & Improvement is making to improve the health and wellbeing of the Armed Forces community. Healthcare for the Armed Forces community reflects the emergent priorities and changes the NHS has made from the We are the NHS: People plan 2020/21.
Contributing to the commitment made in the Armed Forces Covenant
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.
The Veteran Aware model will encourage providers to identify those patients who currently work, or who have worked in the military, as well as service families, to ensure they are not disadvantaged in the care they receive and where possible, that they receive personalised care and improve patient outcomes.