Celebrating our achievements at VCHA best practice symposium

A serving RAF Wing Commander movingly spoke about his daughter’s successful fight against Leukaemia during a National best practice Veteran Aware symposium organised by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA).

Wing Commander Phil Holdcroft RAF, one of the symposium’s keynote speakers, told the audience of around 150 about the struggles with health issues, his daughter Isla had to undergo.

The experience left the Wing Commander with a full appreciation of the work of the NHS and the support it and the military offered to his family, which allowed them to concentrate on Isla and the support she needed. After more than five years, their life is back on track.

He said: “There’s now a new normal in our family. My life continues in the military. Family life is back on track. Isla is a happy and healthy 11-year-old.  I’m grateful for everything the NHS and the Covenant team has done for our family.”

Wing Commander Holdcroft’s speech was one of many highlights during the event, which was attended by a variety of people representing the NHS, charities, care and residential homes as well as serving personnel.

Kate Davies CBE, Director of Health and Justice, Armed Forces and Sexual Assault Referral Centres for NHS England provided an update on the work of the Armed Forces Directorate.

Prof Tim Briggs, Chair and National Lead of the VCHA, said that 60% of NHS trusts in England had been accredited and that the VCHA was now widening its scope and was accrediting care homes, hospices and residential homes as he provided an update on the work of the VCHA.  

Col David Richmond CBE, the Government’s Independent Veterans Advisor, gave a closing address and referred to the importance of the VCHA in making people aware of the needs and challenges of those who have served. 

Col David Richmond speaking during the event

People also heard presentations from a variety of Trusts about how they had met various points of the Veteran Aware manifesto and applauded the presentation of Veteran Aware accreditation to three NHS Trusts and an independent care home.

Prof Tim Briggs CBE presents Veteran Aware accreditation to Richard Chadwick from the York and Scarborough Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Prof Tim Briggs CBE presents Veteran Aware accreditation to Hannah Hall from Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust
Prof Tim Briggs CBE and Guy Benson, team lead for VCHA present Veteran Aware accreditation to Trevor Post, Sarah Mills and Cathy Hill from the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust

Speaking after the event Prof Briggs said: “I’m so pleased we were able to gather so many people together to celebrate and reflect on what has been achieved so far and what we need to do next.

“I hope that this time next year we will be able to say mission accomplished when it comes to accrediting all NHS trusts in England. However, much remains to be done with one-year reviews, re-accreditations and of course widening scope.”

Prof Tim Briggs CBE