About the VCHA

The Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) is a group of NHS providers, including acute, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts that have agreed to model of the best care for, and support to, the Armed Forces community.

The VCHA is a strategic and continuous quality improvement programme. Its purpose is to:

  • improve understanding of the needs of and the services and initiatives available to the Armed Forces community to improve care underpinned by evidence and data; improving healthcare for the Armed Forces community while raising the standards for everyone accessing care within the NHS
  • build trust and understanding amongst healthcare professionals
  • engender support and action from key stakeholders and partners to support delivery of the commitments of the programme to improve the health and wellbeing of the Armed Forces community
  • support the NHS to meet its statutory duties relating to the involvement of patients and the public and to ensure no disadvantage, or unwarranted variation, in accessing healthcare for the Armed Forces community, as per The Armed Forces Act, 2021.

The original remit of this programme was to accredit all NHS trusts in England, however this has since been expanded to Hospices and the Independent Care Sector with a similar scheme available for the accrediting of care homes. 

VCHA Background

The Chavasse Report, 2014, focusses on improving care for the Armed Forces community while raising standards for all across the NHS. The report, by Professor Tim Briggs CBE, is based on findings from his orthopaedic ‘get it right first time’ (GIRFT) visits to NHS trusts. The report recommended establishing a network of hospitals focussed on raising standards for the Armed Forces community. The resulting Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) works closely with NHS England, service charities, and the Ministry of Defence, to deliver the Veteran Aware accreditation programme.

With the introduction of the Armed Forces Bill (2021), which brought into law the Armed Forces Covenant (2012), all NHS providers will need to meet the requirements of this legislation. Veteran Aware accreditation supports meeting these legal requirements and most NHS trusts are now Veteran Aware accredited, as are an increasing number of independent providers. These providers are working to help drive improvements in 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