County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT) has been accredited as Veteran Aware.
This means it takes active note of the needs of the Armed Forces Community.
The Trust is one of the largest integrated care providers in England with its 7,000 staff serving a population of around 650,000 people from two acute sites, a centre for planned care, community hospitals and more than 80 other community based settings as well as in patients’ homes.
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 Trust’s accreditation means that 147 NHS providers across England are now Veteran Aware accredited and the alliance aims to have all Trusts accredited by the end of the first quarter of 2024.
The area is good recruiting ground for the Armed Forces. With a general population in County Durham of around 918,800, it is estimated that 137,017 (15 per cent) are from the Armed Forces Community.
VCHA Regional Lead Mandy Stokes said: “I am delighted with the excellence of the work carried out by County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust has demonstrated its commitment to being Veteran Aware for both patients and staff and in building this into its wider Trust business to make sure that staff understand the needs of the armed forces community.”
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.”
Sue Jacques Chief Executive of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted to have achieved Veteran Aware gold status. CDDFT is committed to supporting our veterans and the wider Armed Forces Community and ensuring they are treated fairly and do not face disadvantages.
“Our armed forces play a vital role and often make immense sacrifices to keep us all safe and we have an obligation to look after them – whether that is as a care provider or as an employer.
“A number of our staff have been members of the Armed Forces, or are reservists, combining their role with us and serving their country. It’s humbling that some of our medical and nursing colleagues have used their amazing skills serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and were also deployed to Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis, caring for members of our forces and civilians. We’re proud of the dedication they show their patients, wherever they’re caring for them whether it’s here or in a field hospital somewhere else in the world.
“Over the last twelve months, we have undertaken a wide variety of work to ensure patients who are members of the Armed Forces Community are aware of the importance of letting us know their status so we can provide the appropriate care for them. We are establishing an Armed Forces Network to support our staff who have served with more plans for the future.
“In 2019 we signed the Armed Forces Covenant so achieving Veteran Award status further represents our commitment to being an armed forces-friendly organisation.”
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 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/veterans-covenant-healthcare-alliance-national-best-practice-conference-tickets-574481980067